The 14-Year-Old Who Founded Girls Who Hack Is Inspiring the Next Generation of Hackers

“Women aren't really taken as seriously in the cybersecurity field, and I've noticed that with most of my girlfriends, they don't really get opportunities to work with a community of girls to learn.”
October 22, 2021, 9:09pm

Bianca Lewis, or as she is known in the hacker world: BiaSciLab, is part of the next generation of hackers. At 14 years old, she has already made a name for herself in hacker conference circles when a few years ago, she was among a group of kids that hacked into an election reporting system. This inspired her to start her Secure Open Vote project, where she plans to build a secure end-to-end election system. 

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Lewis also started Girls Who Hack, where she focuses on teaching girls the skills they need to get into hacking, starting at a very basic level. “Women aren't really taken as seriously in the cybersecurity field, and I've noticed that with most of my girlfriends, they don't really get opportunities to work with a community of girls to learn,” she says. “And just working in this field, being younger and having a new perspective makes me want to teach a different way and showcase things in a different way. And it makes it feel easier to teach to kids who are my age. Kids don't really want to learn from an adult who's super technical, but someone their age who's just explaining it to them as a friend.” 

“I love to learn new things and stretch my brain to solve different puzzles and challenges,” she added. “So I started to go to more and more conferences. After that, I decided, hey, I learned so much stuff. I want to teach all the stuff to people. So I started presenting and doing talks. My first talk was on cryptography and since then, anything that I learn, I make a talk on.”

Lewis knows that new threats and problems arise every single day in the cyber security field, and that she has to keep learning to keep up, but she’s up for the task and looking forward to what the future holds for her. “I feel like what I'm doing now is the path to a bunch of different careers. If Girls Who Hack really takes off then I can go focus on that, or Secure Open Vote, I can focus on that and put all my energy into that. Or if I decide that presenting really is my lifelong passion, I can keep presenting. The cybersecurity field is so wide that I feel like there's endless options for different jobs and things I could do.”

Also featured in this episode of FutureProof is Marc Maiffret, who got his start in cybersecurity by hacking as a teenager in the 90s, and honed his skills by breaking into the digital spaces and exploring.

Looking to the future of the field, Maiffret is encouraged by what he sees from the next generation of hackers like Lewis. “The things that a teenager these days is coming up with in security versus 20 years ago. I mean, it's mind boggling things around like artificial intelligence, machine learning stuff that just couldn't even fathom back then. And so I'm I'm just extremely excited for where things are going.”