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Apple Hacker Fired: 3 Lessons

Brilliant and extraordinary—these two words perfectly describe ex-Apple hacker Nicholas Allegra, a.k.a Comex. He was so skillful and extraordinarily brilliant that he managed to break into the world’s most protected consumer operating system, a move that shocked the entire information security community. Shortly after unlocking Apple’s tightly secured iOS, Allegra created a website called JailBreakMe that enabled users to lift Apple-installed restrictions from their devices. This was a huge blow to Apple and its developers.

Dino Dai Zovi, a process security researcher and a hacker himself, said that Allegra is “five years ahead” of even the most highly skilled, state-sponsored hackers. What normally takes teams of researchers to exploit and hack was singlehandedly accomplished by Allegra, a remarkable execution that made Zovi think that the genius hacker is “from the future”. So exceptional were Allegra’s skills that Apple decided to hire him as an intern in 2011. He proved to be an asset to the Cupertino tech giant for a year until he was fired in October 2012. The reason for his firing, according to Allegra, was an overlooked email.

In his tweet, Allegra said he “forgot” to reply to Apple’s email offering to extend his employment. While it is still unclear whether forgotten email is really the reason behind Allegra’s departure from Apple, his firing says a lot about how the tech giant handles its star employees. Here are some lessons that can be learned from Allegra’s misfortune:

Apple Hacker Fired: 3 Lessons

Brilliant as you are, you’re still an employee

No matter how much of an asset you are to the company, don’t expect your employer to roll out the red carpet for you. Yes, you’re brilliant and all that; but when it comes down to it, you’re still an employee. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the top dog; at the end of the day, you get a paycheck just like everyone else. Even if your boss and your co-workers constantly praise you for your stellar performance, don’t let it get to your head and expect VIP treatment from your employer. Allegra was fired for supposedly forgetting to reply to an offer email. Some may think that it was unfair after everything he contributed to the company, but even star employees have to follow company rules and policies. What if Apple has a strict rule about replying to offer emails and letters? What if Allegra really took his time in replying to the email even when Apple already imposed a specific time frame on him? Never think of yourself as someone who’s above the rules and never cross company red tapes, especially when you’re well aware that it could lead to undesirable consequences.

“I forgot” is not a good enough excuse

In the corporate world, the “I forgot” excuse usually won’t do the trick. You can’t keep saying “I forgot” each time you miss a crucial deadline or overlook an important email. “Forgetting” to do certain tasks at work means you’re irresponsible, period. Unless you want to get kicked to the curb like Allegra, don’t ever use this excuse on your boss. Instead, say “I’m working on it” or “It’s almost done” when your boss follows up on a task you haven’t finished yet or on a project that slipped your mind.

Being organized will go a long way

Perhaps Allegra overlooked Apple’s offer letter because his inbox had a mountain of unread emails, all jumbled together with no means to determine the important ones. Organizing your emails and files on a daily basis will help you keep track of the things you need to get done more easily. This will also enable you to effectively manage your workload and monitor the status of pending tasks or emails. Separate important emails from the not-so-important ones and put them in folders. Do the same to your files and other documents. If necessary, put notes on your business phone (more info) and set reminder alarms so that you won’t “forget” urgent tasks and assignments.

Hacking may not be your profession, but these lessons from Allegra’s firing will definitely help you become more effective at work.

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