I’m not saying “all” will end up in jail. Most hackers don’t get caught.
I support ethical hacking.
Oh, legal or illegal doesn’t matter if you’re good at what you do. This is where merit matters.Example: If you do a sophisticated hack in your teens, it becomes street cred. Jail or not, you’ve proven your merit.Go forward in life. You’ve grown up. You apply at a high tech computer security firm who is looking for testers who know how to find flaws.
Enter the hacker. As long as they sign non-disclosure agreements and all the standard adult legal stuff, any security company would be fine with a smart hacker hired to hack.
This is also why standard security firms often hire ex-convicts who were jailed for the crimes they want to prevent:Hard earned knowledge that won’t go to waste.
A lot of hackers know “too much” about hacking but “not enough” about:
How to get a job.
How to get a girlfriend/boyfriend
How to socialize normally
Bored, lonely, looking for fun. They do what they know.
But you can always learn how to get a job/mate/socialize normally and if you can’t, maybe somebody will be kind enough to take you under their wing if you can demonstrate skills.