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2021 2022 2023


Cyber Security Young Professional of the Year: Inti De Ceukelaire

At Belgium’s 2023 Cyber Security Awards, the title of 'Young Professional of the Year' was awarded to Inti De Ceukelaire, ethical hacker and internet entrepreneur. As Chief Hacker Officer at Intigriti, he manages the largest network of ethical hackers worldwide. More and more hackers are members of the community. Inti approaches cybersecurity from the hacker's point of view, which is both refreshing and enlightening.

Inti De Ceukelaire

Chief Hacker Officer at Intigriti

Inti De Ceukelaire: We operate in the same way as cybercriminals, but as ethical hackers we do not cause any damage. We penetrate the systems of companies and organisations, usually with their permission. I say 'usually' because this is no longer required in Belgium, as long as you respect certain rules and inform the company if you find something. We look for vulnerabilities in software systems, computers and hardware.  
It is very fascinating and varied work. For example, if you have to get past a counter for an assignment, you need to hone your human skills. Experience shows that you can always get in wearing a fluorescent vest or carrying a ladder. If you then find a cable or an internet port, you put your technical hacking skills to use. Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes it all even more interesting. To deceive AI, you need both language skills and creative thinking. 
Are companies more open towards ethical hacking today?  
I see a difference compared to a decade ago, when most companies didn't know anything about hackers. Most of them are now aware that ethical hackers don't break things, but instead identify things that could cause problems. If you don't look for problems, you will not find any, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. As a company, you can bury your head in the sand until things go completely wrong. Or you can do proactive testing. Criminal practices must of course be punished, but companies also have a responsibility to keep their data safe. 
Consumers bear a responsibility, too. They should be careful, for instance, when downloading apps. An example: as soon as you download the Temu app (an e-commerce platform with cheap shopping), Temu has access to your data. It’s a Chinese company, so it is subject to Chinese law. That means a completely different type of data protection applies. If the Chinese government were to request data from Temu, there is no guarantee that it will not be shared. I think transparency is very important. When I install an app, I want to know what the app does with my phone and with my data. 
What attracts you to this job? 
I admit, I really like to cheat. It started when I was a kid. When a game was explained to us young people, I immediately looked for ways to creatively circumvent or bend the rules and win. I find it very refreshing to question rules. Why do we do it this way and not another way? Sometimes you come across very new and interesting ideas. 
When I was given toys as a child, I always tried to destroy them immediately. I enjoyed seeing how things worked. I was already looking for the vulnerabilities of, say, a toy car or a computer game. If you know how and why things break, you can also improve them. This is often how start-ups are created. A good entrepreneur always has a bit of a hacker mentality. There is no need to walk within the lines. 
What is your golden tip for entrepreneurs to be safe? 
Make the effort to imagine that a hacker has access to everything in your company: what does this mean? How bad is the situation? What's out on the street? How much damage does this cause your company, and how can you limit the harm? And of course: what could you have done to prevent this? It’s good to think about this in advance. “I don’t care if my phone is hacked,” people sometimes say, “I have nothing to hide.” Until I say, “OK, give me your phone.” Then they suddenly realise what they are giving away. So my tip is: simulate a hack in your head and learn from it the exercise.