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Tech CEO Advises San Francisco Students To Become Ethical Hackers

San Francisco tech students looking for an employment edge in the competitive information security industry should heed the expert advice from Marcin Kleczynski, founder and CEO of Bay Area-based Malwarebytes. Mr. Kleczynski was just 14 years old and in high school when he started his tech company after getting a virus on his parents computer. He officially launched his company in 2008 while in college and quickly became a millionaire when he was 19. Today, his anti-malware software has been downloaded more than 300 million times and is reportedly the number one anti-malware product on the market. Now, barely 25 years old, he's a leading tech executive who employs more than 140 people and his company is among Forbes' list of America's Most Promising Companies.

(Photo Courtesy of Marcin Kleczynski)

What is your background and education?

"I was born in Poland but grew up in Chicago. I started the company at the age of 14 after I had accidentally gotten a computer virus on the family computer. It took me three days – with the help from computer forums to clean it up, and that birthed the idea for a faster, better way to protect from malware. I developed the core technology for Malwarebytes and ran it from my dorm room while I got my bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois."

Can you briefly explain what type of products and services Malwarebytes offers?

"Malwarebytes offers removal of and protection against the latest malware threats for both consumers and businesses. We provide anti-malware, anti-exploit, secure backup and other technologies, such as anti-malware for mobile devices. We work alongside your anti-virus to significantly enhance your security. Anti-virus protects against known threats, but anti-malware protects against what the bad guys are developing and using today."

What advice can you share to people interested in a career in information security?

"Take plenty of programming classes and learn how to be an ethical hacker. Some of our researchers have military computer intelligence backgrounds, some have learned through computer help forums on the web. When I started, I read everything I could about how to program."

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on

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