Hacker Valley Studio
Recruiting and How to Find the Perfect Match with Mimi Gross

Recruiting and How to Find the Perfect Match with Mimi Gross

September 27, 2022

Mimi Gross, Founder and Cybersecurity Matchmaker at People By Mimi, connects early stage through Series C cybersecurity startups with sales and marketing talent. As a recruiter and headhunter with over 5 years of experience, Mimi refers to the process of recruiting and hiring as “cybersecurity matchmaking.” Mimi joins Hacker Valley Studio this week to talk about what recruiting and dating have in common (including marriage!), and the ways to deal with rejection during the hiring process. 

 

Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Defining the term “cybersecurity matchmaking” as a recruiter

[04:00] Commonalities between recruiting and dating advice 

[07:55] Dealing with job rejection like a bad breakup

[15:17] Balancing hiring manager wants and needs in the recruitment process

[20:11] Emphasizing chemistry between the ideal candidate and their future employer

 

Sponsor Links: 

Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and Uptycs for bringing this episode to life! 

The Axonius solution correlates asset data from existing solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory, uncover gaps, and automate action — giving IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity. Learn more at axonius.com/hackervalley 

With Uptycs, modern defenders can prioritize, investigate and respond to threats across the entire attack surface—all from a common solution: uptycs.com. 

 

Where did the term “cybersecurity matchmaking” come from?

There’s a huge element of matchmaking in recruiting. That’s essentially what you’re doing — you’re matching a potential candidate with a potential new position. Certain recruiters and companies instead treat the act of recruiting candidates and hiring new employees like a sales transaction. This feels impersonal for everyone involved. Referring to recruiting as “matchmaking” reminds everyone involved that there are humans in the process at every stage, from application to references, interviews to onboarding.
“Early on, I was disillusioned with recruiting, because I realized that people don't treat it like finding the perfect match. It's like sales for some people. I quickly said, ‘I can't do this thing unless I can call it matchmaking.’ That's where the term came in.”

What does dating advice have to do with recruiting?

In both recruiting and dating, you’re trying to find the “right” fit. In dating, both people in a relationship are looking for “the one”; someone to grow with long term and to build a mutually beneficial relationship with. In recruiting, the founder or hiring manager is looking for the right candidate for the role, while the job searcher is looking for the right job for their career. In both dating and recruiting, when you find the right one, it won’t be a huge compromise or a challenging fit; the relationship will feel authentic and natural.
“I find that the best matches I make — and I love to call them matches, because they really are — I look back at them, like, ‘You know, that was a good match.’ In those great matches, the chemistry was there right away.”

 

How do you help candidates deal with rejection?

Rejection is part of the recruiting process, just like how breaking up is part of the dating cycle. There are going to be times when the fit isn’t right and the job you want goes to a different candidate. The trick is to not take it personally. Instead, take a learning approach to the situation. The company might need to go in a different direction, or someone else in the organization may be taking over the position. Unlike dating, the hiring process is unrelated to who you are as a person. Focus on learning and applying your experience elsewhere.

“It’s not just about not taking rejection personally. You have to see that there will be the right fit for you, and that also, the person who is rejecting you now could be a valuable person to know in the future. Never burn bridges.”

 

What is one of the most important aspects in recruiting?

Chemistry is key in the recruiting process. You may have a company executive or a hiring manager who wants a specific trait from their applicants, like an Ivy League education. As a recruiter, you have to dig beneath the surface to discover the “why” behind a job qualification or educational requirement. Perhaps the employer actually wants someone organized or detail-oriented. Getting to know the “why” means that you can find the actual right fit, while the chemistry between the job seeker and the hiring executive will take care of the rest.

“In the beginning, if you find the right match, the dating metaphor here is that nobody's perfect. You have to figure out what kind of imperfect you can handle and you can love, and that's the right match.”

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Links: 

Spend some time with our guest Mimi Gross on LinkedIn

Learn more about cybersecurity matchmaking on the People By Mimi website

Connect with Ron Eddings on LinkedIn and Twitter

Connect with Chris Cochran on LinkedIn and Twitter

Purchase a HVS t-shirt at our shop

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord

Check out Hacker Valley Media and Hacker Valley Studio

Recruiting Talent for Cybersecurity’s Next Open Position with Renee Small

Recruiting Talent for Cybersecurity’s Next Open Position with Renee Small

September 20, 2022

Renee Small, Cybersecurity Super Recruiter, content creator, and host of the Breaking into Cybersecurity podcast, joins the Hacker Valley team to clear the misconceptions around recruiting and discuss cybersecurity’s open positions. Taking labor shortages and skills gaps into consideration, Renee explains how she’s helped others start strong in the industry and hone their skills. Additionally, Renee covers her journey into content creation and podcasting, and how that’s impacted her recruiting work. 

 

Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Understanding a recruiter’s role in big and small cybersecurity orgs

[06:37] Diving into content creation with the Breaking into Cybersecurity podcast

[12:13] Challenges and rewards of helping entry level cybersecurity professionals

[16:02] Rewarding cyber recruitment stories and tech mentorship opportunities

[22:39] Advising job seekers looking for entry level positions in cybersecurity

 

Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and Uptycs for bringing this episode to life!

The Axonius solution correlates asset data from existing solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory, uncover gaps, and automate action — giving IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity. Learn more at axonius.com/hackervalley

With Uptycs, modern defenders can prioritize, investigate and respond to threats across the entire attack surface—all from a common solution: uptycs.com.

 

What is the role of a recruiter in cybersecurity? 

Renee knows the idea of a recruiter can be a confusing one, and the role of a recruiter can be radically different depending on the size of an organization or the type of recruitment they focus on. Overall, however, Renee believes that the role of a recruiter is to be a matchmaker for a position within a company. Cybersecurity recruiters have to understand the technical needs of a position and the cultural needs of a cybersecurity company to find the perfect practitioner fit.

“The role really is to be like a matchmaker. You’re seeing who out there is a great fit for which roles, which companies, and which culture, or which company culture, and that's what makes it, for me, a lot of fun.”

 

How has being a content creator impacted your work as a recruiter? 

Although Renee doesn’t always identify as a content creator, her work with Chris Foulon on the Breaking into Cybersecurity podcast speaks volumes about the type of creator she really is. Renee always focuses on giving back with the work she produces, whether that work involves career coaching, recruitment advice, or cybersecurity education. Becoming a podcaster and content creator has allowed Renee to answer questions and provide information that helps the entire online cyber community. 

“I experienced all the positions that were open as a recruiter, but I had no idea that there was this group of folks who were entry level, or transitioning into their first cybersecurity position, and they needed my help [in order to break into cyber].”

 

What are some of the most fulfilling moments that a recruiter can have? 

Being a recruiter gives Renee the opportunity to help cybersecurity practitioners discover their dream job and navigate the industry intelligently. Her fulfilling moments actually center around those she’s helped along the way, including a former mentee and a former helpdesk employee looking for upward mobility. Finding the perfect match isn’t just about satisfying the company needs, Renee explains, but is also about connecting someone to an opportunity for success and growth.

“I get a kick out of people getting a job, it's almost like a little high for me. Every time I'm the person who connects people and it works out and they get paid well, I have a little party in my head. It's just so rewarding. I love that matchmaking process so much.”

 

What advice do you have for professionals struggling with their job search in the cybersecurity industry? 

Cybersecurity’s labor shortage and staff burnout issues threaten even the most air-tight of security teams. Unfortunately, Renee explains that even with so many job openings, entry-level employees or professionals transitioning industries still can’t break into cyber. Her best advice for those struggling to take the first step is to connect with successful practitioners in the field already through nonprofit organizations and network events. Focus on a network that will expand your knowledge of cyber and the state of the industry.

“If you're a college student, if you are someone out there looking to understand what's happening in the field, join one of the myriad of cybersecurity nonprofit organizations and learn about what security really is.”

---------------

Links:

Keep up with Renee Small on LinkedIn 

Listen to Renee’s podcast Breaking into Cybersecurity

Connect with Ron Eddings on LinkedIn and Twitter

Connect with Chris Cochran on LinkedIn and Twitter

Purchase a HVS t-shirt at our shop

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord

Check out Hacker Valley Media and Hacker Valley Studio

Keeping It Open Source with Metasploit’s HD Moore

Keeping It Open Source with Metasploit’s HD Moore

September 15, 2022

This season of Hacker Valley Red wraps up with another interview of an incredible offensive cybersecurity legend. Known first and foremost for his work founding Metasploit and his recent work co-founding Rumble, HD Moore joins the show this week to hear about his journey from spiteful hacker to successful founder. HD walks through the history of Metasploit, the motivation behind their coding decisions, his opinions on open source software, and the excitement of exploration and discovery.

Timecoded Guide:

[04:57] Catching up with HD’s career from his hacking exploits in the ‘90s through his founding of Metasploit to his recent activities with Rumble

[11:41] Getting personal with the feelings and takeaways from a project as successful and impactful on the cyber industry as Metasploit

[18:52] Explaining HD’s personal philosophies around accessible education and the risk of sharing vulnerable information publicly

[25:39] Diving deep into the technical stories of HD’s path of discovery and exploration during his time at Metasploit

[31:14] Giving advice for future founders and hackers looking to make a legendary impact on the cybersecurity community

Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and PlexTrac for bringing this season of HVR to life!

Life is complex. But it’s not about avoiding challenges or fearing failure. Just ask Simone Biles — the greatest gymnast of all time. Want to learn more about how Simone controls complexity? Watch her video at axonius.com/simone

PlexTrac is pleased to offer an exclusive Red Team Content Bundle for Hacker Valley listeners. This bundle contains both our "Writing a Killer Penetration Test Report" and "Effective Purple Teaming" white papers in ONE awesome package. Head to PlexTrac.com/HackerValley to learn more about the platform and get your copy today!

 

What were some of the trials, tribulations, and successes of Metasploit?

Although Metasploit has had a lasting impact on the cyber world, HD Moore is not afraid to admit that part of Metasploit existed out of spite for critics, employers, and gatekeepers in the cybersecurity industry. In terms of trials and tribulations, HD saw a great deal of criticism come from his peers and from professionals ahead of him in the industry, often displaying rudeness towards the quality of the exploits and Metasploit’s audience of young hackers. Later, HD says that a surprising and amusing side effect of his success with the project was watching employers and peers go from criticizing to lifting up his work with Metasploit and attributing success of many hacking professionals to its creation.

“When we started the Metasploit project, we really wanted to open up to everybody. We wanted to make sure that, even if you barely knew how to program, you can still contribute something to Metasploit. So, we did our best to make it really easy for folks to get in touch with us, to submit code.”

 

Where does your philosophy land today on giving information freely?

HD has heard the same opinions many professionals that teach and give information freely have heard: “You’re making it easier for people to use this information the wrong way.” Instead of considering the worst possible outcomes of making hacking accessible, HD chooses to acknowledge the importance of accessible education and publicly provided information. According to HD, if someone is creating and teaching content to the next generation of red teamers, that content is theirs to use. Whether they’re a physical pen tester teaching lock picking or a hacker disclosing a vulnerability, what they choose to share with others has to be based on personal moral code and what others do with that information is up to them.

“It comes down to: You do the work, you own the result. If you're teaching people how to do stuff, great, they can do what they want. You can decide to do that, you can decide not to do that, but it's your decision to spend your time training people or not training them.”

 

Is it possible to be a CEO, or a co-founder, and stay technical?

The downside of success in the cybersecurity industry is often stereotyped as losing the opportunity to be a hands-on hacker. However, for HD, his success has allowed him to do the exact opposite and instead prioritize his time to be technical. HD believes strongly in the ability to make this happen through proper delegation of duties, incorporating new leaders and managers in your company or project, and acknowledging when you may need the help to bring what you’re working on to the next level. HD is proud of his success with Metasploit and Rumble, and is happy that he was able to hand off certain duties to other professionals that he knew would do better if they had a chance in the founder’s shoes.

“Don't let the growth of your company change what you enjoy about your work. That's really the big thing there, and there's lots of ways you can get there. You can hire folks to help out, you can promote your co-founder to CEO. You can bring on program managers or project managers to help with all the day to day stuff."

 

What advice do you have for people looking to follow a similar cyber career path?

Content is the name of the game, especially when you’re looking to get more eyes on what you do. HD is the first to admit that putting himself out there in a blog post, on a podcast, or at a stage show is not always a walk in the park, taking him out of his comfort zone and often away from the tech that he spends his time on. However, publicly displaying himself and his work has brought attention to Rumble and Metasploit, and HD knows he would not have achieved this level of success without putting his content out into the world, hearing feedback from his peers, and even receiving his fair share of criticism from industry professionals.

“Not all of it is the most fun thing to do all the time, but it is crucially important, not just for growing yourself and getting out there and getting feedback from your peers, but for learning because you learn so much from the feedback you get from that effort.”

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Links:

Stay in touch with HD Moore on LinkedIn, Twitter, and his website.

Learn more about Rumble, Inc on LinkedIn and the Rumble website.

Keep up with Hacker Valley on our website, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

Follow Ron Eddings on Twitter and LinkedIn

Catch up with Chris Cochran on Twitter and LinkedIn

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord

Hacking the TikTok Algorithm with Caitlin, AKA Cybersecurity Girl

Hacking the TikTok Algorithm with Caitlin, AKA Cybersecurity Girl

September 13, 2022

Caitlin Sarian, known on TikTok as Cybersecurity Girl, comes to Hacker Valley to talk about the endless possibilities for cybersecurity on social media. Walking through her journey of becoming cyber’s biggest TikTok star, Caitlin covers every aspect of internet fame and online presence, including facing criticism, gaining and losing viewers, and trying to make an impact on women in STEM. Alongside her work on social media, Caitlin also walks through the development of her new online cybersecurity course.

 

Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Introducing Caitlin & her work on TikTok with Cybersecurity Girl

[06:45] Building a cyber platform on TikTok & dealing with imposter syndrome

[11:21] Keeping women in STEM, instead of just getting women into STEM fields

[15:56] Dismissing the idea of the diversity hire in tech & cyber

[24:43] Working with Girls Who Code & building her own low-cost cyber school

 

Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and Uptycs for bringing this episode to life!

The Axonius solution correlates asset data from existing solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory, uncover gaps, and automate action — giving IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity. Learn more at axonius.com/hackervalley
 

Uptycs, analytics for the modern attack surface, observability for the modern defender. Check out Uptycs by visiting them at uptycs.com

 

How do you feel about going viral, or not going viral, on TikTok? 

Although social media, especially TikTok, relies on an algorithm to push content to different viewers, Caitlin admits that viral content creation is more about luck than about methods. Since becoming involved in TikTok as a cybersecurity influencer, Caitlin has developed tricks of her own to elevate her content and interact with her audience, including going live on the app. However, she still explains that going viral is still random, with lower quality quick content sometimes hitting a larger audience than her higher value creations. 

“Videos that you spend the least time on get the most views and the videos that you spend the most time on, get the least views. I've stopped looking at the views and just started trying to produce content that either makes people smile, or adds value to people's lives.”

 

What is that value that you're getting from making cybersecurity content for TikTok? 

While creating podcasts at Hacker Valley allows for Chris and Ron to give back to their community and meet incredible cybersecurity content creators, a similar idea guides Caitlin’s work on TikTok. Considering that content creation can sometimes feel thankless and frustrating, Caitlin motivates herself by focusing on the people she helps. Through making cybersecurity more accessible online, she hopes to inspire other women to get involved and stay involved in cyber, tech, and STEM fields.

“It adds value to my life, knowing that I'm not just going day-by day-doing my job and that's it. I like bringing awareness and being that light for people that need it, especially in the tech world. I think for me, this is what I'm hoping for, I'm hoping to get more women in STEM.”

 

Can you tell us a little bit about your online cybersecurity school? 

Caitlin isn’t only working on her cybersecurity platform on TikTok, she’s also expanding into online education with her course, Become a Cyber Analyst. Focusing on cybersecurity accessibility and affordable education, Caitlin’s course is a six-month boot camp that teaches students the ropes of the cyber industry. The best part? Students don’t pay until they’re employed in cyber, and Caitlin’s course guarantees a job within 3 months of graduation.

“I partnered up with a school called Master School, and it's basically a six-month boot camp. And then, after the boot camp, we have HR specialists that help students get a job after. You don't have to pay for it until you get a job, and it's a lump sum.”

 

What is your perspective on the struggles women face breaking into cybersecurity and staying in tech careers?

As a woman in cybersecurity, Caitlin has witnessed alarming levels of sexism in the industry and has seen fellow women experience tech burnout. With her content on TikTok and her new cybersecurity school, Caitlin hopes to solve the problem of not just inviting women into the cyber industry, but retaining female employees in cyber as well. Through supportive content creation and her own influence, she hopes other woman see that the possibilities in their careers are endless.

“I think the issue that I always used to deal with is a lot of men think I got the job from just being a woman. That also goes to my imposter syndrome, because I'm like, ‘Maybe I did just get this job because I'm a woman and they want to work with me. Maybe I'm a diversity hire.’”

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Links:

Keep up with our guest Caitlin/Cybersecurity Girl on TikTok and Instagram

Learn more about Caitlin’s incredible Masterschool course, Become a Cyber Analyst

Connect with Ron Eddings on LinkedIn and Twitter

Connect with Chris Cochran on LinkedIn and Twitter

Purchase a HVS t-shirt at our shop

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord

Check out Hacker Valley Media and Hacker Valley Studio

From Black Hat to Bug Bounties [Pt. 2] with Thomas DeVoss

From Black Hat to Bug Bounties [Pt. 2] with Thomas DeVoss

September 8, 2022

We’re joined again by the hacker’s hacker, Tommy DeVoss, aka dawgyg. Bug bounty hunter and reformed black hat, Tommy dives back into a great conversation with us about his journey in hacking and his advice to future red team offensive hackers. We cover everything we couldn’t get to from part 1 of our interview, including his struggles with burnout, his past hacking foreign countries on a bold quest to stop terrorism, and his future in Twitch streaming to teach you how to be a better bug bounty hunter.

Timecoded Guide:

[02:57] Fixating on hacking because of the endless possibilities and iterations to learn

[09:54] Giving advice to the next generation of hackers

[17:17] Contacting Tommy and keeping up with him on Twitter

[21:43] Planning a Twitch course to teach hackers about bug bounties using real bugs and real-world examples 

[24:57] Hacking in the early 2000s and understanding the freedom Tommy has to talk about any and all illegal hacking he’s done now that he’s gone to prison

 

Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and PlexTrac for bringing this season of HVR to life!

Life is complex. But it’s not about avoiding challenges or fearing failure. Just ask Simone Biles — the greatest gymnast of all time. Want to learn more about how Simone controls complexity? Watch her video at axonius.com/simone

PlexTrac is pleased to offer an exclusivecRed Team Content Bundle for Hacker Valley listeners. This bundle contains both our "Writing a Killer Penetration Test Report" and "Effective Purple Teaming" white papers in ONE awesome package. Head to PlexTrac.com/HackerValley to learn more about the platform and get your copy today!

 

Do you ever struggle with burnout when it comes to hacking?

Hacking has maintained Tommy’s interest longer than anything else because of the constant changes in technology and the ever-evolving issues in the online world. However, just because hacking is his passion, doesn’t mean that burnout or frustration never happens. Currently, Tommy is taking more of a break with hacking, letting his current day job and his passion for gaming have a front seat. However, he’s still firmly in the industry, passionately developing learning opportunities for future hackers and answering questions from cyber professionals of all backgrounds.

“I do get burned out sometimes…When it comes to bug bounty hunting, I try and make it so it averages out to where I make at least $1,000 an hour for my effort. It doesn't always work. Sometimes I'm more, sometimes I'm less, but I try and get it so it averages out to about that.”

 

What hacking advice would you give the younger version of yourself?

Although his black hat ways resulted in prison time for Tommy, he doesn’t regret his past and instead seeks to teach others the lessons he’s learned. When we asked Tommy for advice for new hackers, he was clear that success is a longer journey than people assume it is. Tommy’s success was not a fluke, it took years of hands-on learning and patience with failures in order to develop his bug bounty skills. Nothing is actually automatic or easy with hacking, especially as the technology continues to change and evolve. Tommy wants hackers to take every opportunity to try out their skills, even if it's a complete failure.

“Don't expect success overnight. Also, don't let failure discourage you. When it comes to hacking, you're going to fail significantly more than you're going to succeed. And the people that are successful in bug bounties are the ones that don't let those failures discourage them.”

 

What do you think about the “media obsessed” stereotype many people have about black hat hackers?

Wrapping up today, Tommy tells us that he’d be happy to be back in the Hacker Valley Studio again some time. Although the stereotype of a black hat hacker wanting attention from the media is disproven, Tommy believes that he definitely has craved that media attention for a large majority of his hacking career. Starting in the early 2000s, after 9/11, Tommy had one of his first brushes with fame in an interview with CNN about hacking Middle Eastern companies. Although his hacking and his politics have changed since then, Tommy enjoys having in-depth conversations about hacking and explaining the intricacies of what he does.

“We loved the attention back then, and I still love the attention now, it's nice. The good thing about now is, because I already got in trouble for everything that I've done, I've done my prison time, I don't have anything that I did illegally on the computer anymore that I can't talk about, because I've already paid my debt to society.”

 

What are the best ways for people to keep up with what you’re doing?

Considering Tommy’s success, it’s understandable that a lot of cyber professionals and amateurs have tons of questions for him. When it comes to getting in contact with Tommy, he recommends tweeting him on Twitter publicly so that he can not only answer your question, but help others with the exact same questions. Education is key, and Tommy is so dedicated to teaching other hackers that he’s currently developing a recurring Twitch stream centered around helping others learn about bug bounty hunting.

“I don't know how successful we're going to be in finding the bugs, but I think it'll be fun to teach people [on Twitch] and do it that way, so that they can actually spend some time learning it. The best way to actually learn this stuff is to actually try and do the hacking.”

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Links:

Stay in touch with Thomas DeVoss on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Check out the Bug Bounty Hunter website.

Keep up with Hacker Valley on our website, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

Follow Ron Eddings on Twitter and LinkedIn

Catch up with Chris Cochran on Twitter and LinkedIn

Purchase a HVS t-shirt at our shop

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord

Reconnecting to Childhood Creativity with Mari Reisberg

Reconnecting to Childhood Creativity with Mari Reisberg

September 6, 2022

Mari Reisberg, therapist, performer, creativity coach, and host of the Sustaining Creativity podcast, brings her many talents to Hacker Valley to help adults unlock their creativity and engage with their inner child. Tackling topics from artistic ruts to technical frameworks, Mari walks through the essentials of reconnecting with creativity and curiosity. Instead of limiting thoughts to the path of least resistance, Mari challenges her clients to get comfortable with the uncomfortable in creativity.

 

Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Sustaining creativity & coaching others on becoming curious

[06:35] Defining creativity with new ideas & fresh innovations 

[10:07] Climbing out of a creative rut & expanding your comfort zone

[18:47] Unlocking different levels of creativity in everyday life

[23:59] Tapping into creativity and unlocking childhood memories

 

Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and Uptycs for bringing this episode to life!

The Axonius solution correlates asset data from existing solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory, uncover gaps, and automate action — giving IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity. Learn more at axonius.com/hackervalley


With Uptycs, modern defenders can prioritize, investigate and respond to threats across the entire attack surface—all from a common solution: uptycs.com

 

What is creativity, in your opinion?

There isn’t one way to define creativity, Mari explains, but instead a myriad of ways. Each person has their own individual relationship with the concept of creativity, but Mari considers creativity to be tied to the processes of coming up with new ideas and innovating on those ideas. Seeing life through a creative lens means that Mari isn’t afraid to try and fail, because everything she does expands her comfort zone and tests her curiosity. 

“Creativity is one of those words where, if you asked 100 people, you’d get 100 different answers. For me, my definition of creativity really is around thinking of novel, new ideas. And then, the second piece of the creative process is that innovation process.”

 

What advice would you have for someone who is trying to find their way through a creative rut? 

The human brain will always choose the path of least resistance. People like to feel safe and comfortable with everything they do, but Mari understands that creativity can only be practiced at the edge of someone’s comfort zone. With one foot in her comfort zone and one foot out of it, Mari has been able to escape her own creative ruts and make active decisions to try the everyday activities in her life with a different perspective. 

“If my desire is to create something new, something different, and I'm continuing to do the same things and expecting a new result, it's not going to happen. How could you try something different every day?” 

 

Are there different types of creativity, similar to there being different types of intelligence? 

In Mari’s experience, there are two forms of creativity: big C creativity and little c creativity. While little c creativity is an everyday reality, big C creativity is much more performative, curious, and expressive. When someone says they aren’t creative, what they’re thinking of is this second form of creativity. The fact is that anyone can become big C creative, but it requires actively exploring and expanding the skills of creativity. 

“The big C creativity is what everyone assumes is creativity; performing arts, creative arts, I'm doing something that I'm sharing with the world. The small c creativity is that every day creativity. It’s something new, something different.”

 

When it comes to wanting to build our creative muscles, what are some techniques or frameworks that we should be considering?

Creativity is a practice, not a one-and-done deal. Mari explains that building creative muscles comes from repetition of creativity, such as trying something new everyday, challenging ourselves to think of something from an opposite point of view, and even daydreaming. Explore what would happen if something, even one small detail of an event, was different, and never limit yourself to the idea that you’re “just not creative.”

“There’re opportunities to flex that creativity, but it's about continuing to do it. You can’t do it once and expect a miracle. You keep coming back to it, keep practicing, keep having new ways of trying something.” 

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Links:

Keep up with Mari Reisberg at SustainingCreativity.com

Check out Mari’s podcast, the Sustaining Creativity podcast

Connect with Ron Eddings on LinkedIn and Twitter

Connect with Chris Cochran on LinkedIn and Twitter

Purchase a HVS t-shirt at our shop

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord

Check out Hacker Valley Media and Hacker Valley Studio

From Black Hat to Bug Bounties [Pt. 1] with Tommy DeVoss

From Black Hat to Bug Bounties [Pt. 1] with Tommy DeVoss

September 1, 2022

We’re joined by million-dollar hacker and bug bounty hunter, Thomas DeVoss, this week as we continue our season-long discussion of offensive cybersecurity legends. A legend in the making with a success story in bug bounty hunting that has to be heard to be believed, Tommy is an incredibly successful blach hat hacker-turned-bug bounty hunter, representing how misunderstood the hacking community can be and how positively impactful bug bounties can be. Who hacks the hackers? Look no further than Tommy DeVoss.

Timecoded Guide:

[02:59] Becoming interested in hacking for the first time 

[08:26] Encountering unfriendly visits with the government and the FBI after his hacking skills progressed 

[14:20] Seeking his first computer job after prison and leveraging his hacking skills

[25:21] Discussing with Yahoo the possibility of working with them due to his successful bug boundaries

[30:56] Giving honest advice to hackers looking to break into the bug bounty scene 

Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and PlexTrac for bringing this season of HVR to life!

Life is complex. But it’s not about avoiding challenges or fearing failure. Just ask Simone Biles — the greatest gymnast of all time. Want to learn more about how Simone controls complexity? Watch her video at axonius.com/simone

PlexTrac is pleased to offer an exclusive Red Team Content Bundle for Hacker Valley listeners. This bundle contains both our "Writing a Killer Penetration Test Report" and "Effective Purple Teaming" white papers in ONE awesome package. Head to PlexTrac.com/HackerValley to learn more about the platform and get your copy today!

When did you get into hacking for the first time?

At an early age, Thomas found his passion for hacking in an IRC chat room. Mentored by a man named Lewis and encouraged by fellow friends in the hacking world, popping shells and breaking into US systems using foreign IP addresses. Although Tommy became incredible at his craft from a young age, his early habits became serious black hat issues that ended up getting him in trouble with the US government. Just like the hacker in a big Hollywood blockbuster, the government caught up with Tommy and he faced 2 years in prison in his first sentence.

“Instead of coming back to him and saying, "Hey, I'm done," I came back and I was actually asking him questions like, "Can you explain this?” And he saw that I was like, actually interested in this and I wasn't one of the people that was just expecting it to be handed to me and everything like that.”

 

After spending time in prison, were there barriers to getting involved in hacking again?

After being in and out of prison a couple times, Tommy found the worst part of coming home to be his ban from touching any sort of device with internet access. Despite it being a part of his probation, his passion for tech continued to bring him back to computers and gaming. After his final stint in prison after being falsely suspected of returning to his black hat ways, the FBI lifted Tommy’s indefinite ban on computer usage and immediately renewed his passion for working in tech.

“They had banned me indefinitely from touching a computer. So, when I came home on probation the first time, they upheld that and I still wasn't allowed to touch computers as part of my probation. For the first month or so, I didn't get on a computer when I came home from prison, but then it didn't take long before I got bored.”

 

How did your cyber career pivot to bug bounty hunting?

With prison behind him and his ban on computers lifted, Tommy got a job working for a family friend in Richmond, Virginia for a modest salary of $30,000. Although this amount felt like a lot at the time, he quickly realized that there was money to be made in bug bounties. His first few experiments in attempting bug bounty programs had him earning $20,000 or $30,000 for hours of work, a huge increase from the salary he was currently making. Encountering success after success, Thomas quit his job in 2017 to become a full-time bug bounty hunter.

“The first bug bounty program that jumped out at me was Yahoo. I had started hacking Yahoo in the mid 90s, I knew their systems in the 90s and early 2000s better than a lot of their system admins and stuff. And I figured, if there's any company that I should start out with, it should be them.”

 

What success have you seen since becoming a bug bounty hunter, especially with major corporations like Yahoo?

Thomas has become a huge earner in the cybersecurity community, and has continued to see incredible results from his hacking and bug bounty projects. Most notably, after numerous high earning days, making up to $130K at once, with companies like Yahoo, he’s even been offered positions working with corporations he’s bug bountied for. However, Tommy is quick to point out that his success was definitely not overnight, and warns fellow hackers of getting too confident in their bug bounty abilities without the proper skill sets or amount of experience under their belts.

“I think at this point, I've had days where I've made six-digit income in that single day, at least six or seven times. And it's almost always been from Yahoo.”

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Links: 

Stay in touch with Thomas DeVoss on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Check out the Bug Bounty Hunter website.

Keep up with Hacker Valley on our website, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

Follow Ron Eddings on Twitter and LinkedIn

Catch up with Chris Cochran on Twitter and LinkedIn

Purchase a HVS t-shirt at our shop

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord

The Fabulous Search for a Tech Job with Kyle Elliot

The Fabulous Search for a Tech Job with Kyle Elliot

August 30, 2022

Kyle Elliott, the Founder and Career Coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com, joins the pod on his quest to transform boring job searches into something fabulous. Kyle specializes in helping job seekers, especially those in technology and cybersecurity, find jobs they love and express the value they bring to potential employers. Need to know the secret to acing your next tech job interview? Look no further than Caffeinated Kyle.

 

Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Finding your own definition of fabulous

[06:06] Standing out in a tech job interview

[12:19] Dealing with and learning from job rejection

[16:41] Targeting your dream tech job & telling your career story

[21:33] Breaking into technology the easy way and the hard way

 

Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and Uptycs for bringing this episode to life!

The Axonius solution correlates asset data from existing solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory, uncover gaps, and automate action — giving IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity. Learn more at axonius.com/hackervalley


With Uptycs, modern defenders can prioritize, investigate and respond to threats across the entire attack surface—all from a common solution: uptycs.com

 

From your perspective, what makes someone fabulous?

Being “fabulous” can sound grandiose to most tech practitioners, but Kyle believes that everyone has the potential to be fabulous, especially when they’re forging their career path. There’s a lot of competition amongst large tech companies to find the employees that close skill gaps and stand out from the massive group of hungry job seekers. To be fabulous, one has to know how to stand out and what sets them apart. 

“When I think of fabulousness, I think: What sets you apart from other people? I work with job seekers, so I think: What sets you apart from other job seekers or other applicants?” 

 

When you look at standing out in a job interview, what are some of the key components that go into that?

Many job seekers that Kyle works with have the skills, meet the position requirements, show up for the interview, and still struggle with getting a job in tech. While this can happen for a variety of reasons, Kyle explains that a simple mistake job hunters are making is regurgitating their resume without backing up their experience. A strong story about the experiences you had and the value you delivered makes you memorable and explains what you can provide.

“When you're doing this, you want to think in the mind of a hiring manager. How have you added value to the organization? What sets you apart? I didn't just code, I didn't just have cross functional collaboration, here's the value to the organization and what sets me apart.”

 

How do you coach someone through being able to tell their story in an interview?

Career storytelling skills separate a potential employee from a pack of qualified applicants. However, a lot of technical people aren’t known for their storytelling skills or knack for creativity. Instead, Kyle recommends his clients in tech and cyber practice their storytelling through a more familiar world of spreadsheets. Each spreadsheet helps job seekers break down the value they bring with their skills, so they can tell a story that connects their past experiences to their future position.

“A lot of the people I work with in tech, they're amazing at their job, but they're just not used to practicing storytelling…It feels awkward. It feels different. It feels weird, because that's not something they’re used to.”

 

From your experience, what have been the easiest and hardest fields in technology to break into?

In Kyle’s opinion, there isn’t one field of the tech industry that’s easier or harder to break into. Instead, breaking into the tech industry relies more on professional experiences, background, and skillset. If the leap to tech feels like too many transitions at once, Kyle recommends slowing down to one transition at a time and building each experience off of one another. Instead of hiding that this may be a new path for you, embrace your past when job searching and explain why a potential employer should hire someone transitioning into the tech world.

“Everyone's like, ‘Kyle, how do I get a job in tech?’ I would start with your background, and I think that's gonna determine what's easiest or hardest for the person. What I always recommend is, try to make the least amount of transitions possible.” 

---------------

Links:

Keep up with Kyle Elliott on LinkedIn and the Caffeinated Kyle website

Connect with Ron Eddings on LinkedIn and Twitter

Connect with Chris Cochran on LinkedIn and Twitter

Purchase a HVS t-shirt at our shop

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord

Check out Hacker Valley Media and Hacker Valley Studio

Unlocking Cyber Education with John Hammond

Unlocking Cyber Education with John Hammond

August 25, 2022

John Hammond, Senior Security Researcher at Huntress Labs and self-described cybersecurity education enthusiast, joins us as we continue our discussion of red team legends. With a focus on content creation this week, John discusses his success with his YouTube channel, his passion for showcasing authentic and accessible educational materials online, and his advice for creating content safely and spreading awareness with not only a red team or blue team mindset, but with a purple team perspective.

Timecode Guide:

[01:37] Understanding the impact of content creators in the cybersecurity community, especially when it comes to YouTube educational content

[06:58] Becoming a successful YouTube creator through consistently posting hacking content and ignoring the stereotype of “overnight success”

[13:28] Combining his role as a cybersecurity educator with his security research at Huntress to explore exploits and have real life experience with what he teaches

[16:47] Focusing on the blue side of the house as someone with red team experience, and understanding how to use a tool like PlexTrac to create a collaborative purple team

[21:13] Being mindful of the impact he has through sharing this knowledge and understanding the risk of cybersecurity educational materials falling into “the wrong hands”

Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and PlexTrac for bringing this season of HVR to life!

The Axonius solution correlates asset data from existing solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory, uncover gaps, and automate action — giving IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity. Learn more at axonius.com/hackervalley

PlexTrac is pleased to offer an exclusive Red Team Content Bundle for Hacker Valley listeners. This bundle contains both our "Writing a Killer Penetration Test Report" and "Effective Purple Teaming" white papers in ONE awesome package. Head to PlexTrac.com/HackerValley to learn more about the platform and get your copy today!

 

What is your origin story for wanting to educate other hackers?

Like many of us, John started his journey Googling how to become a hacker. As he gained more knowledge about the specific skills involved in hacking, John never left the internet behind, always seeking out videos and articles explaining new and emerging content. Inspired by those who created that content in the first place, he started his own YouTube channel, simply titled John Hammond, as has spent years cultivating a consistent hacker audience.

“Along the way, creating content and helping educate others through YouTube is really my main stage platform and has been just a passion project, a labor of love, and something fun along the way.”

 

What feelings do you get looking back on the YouTube content you’ve created so far?

John prioritizes clarity, transparency, and honesty in what he does, and he’s not afraid to show some humbleness, too. Overall, John is thankful for his YouTube success and the impact it had on the cybersecurity community. No matter what he’s showing in his videos, he prefers to keep things honest, to show where he’s made mistakes, and to accept criticism and advice from other hackers and offensive cybersecurity professionals that see his work.

“I'm showcasing just my computer screen, maybe you get a little face cam and a circle on the bottom right, but it's like you're looking over my shoulder. You're seeing me showcase something raw, live, genuine, and authentic…It’s not all sexy, there’s a lot of failure in hacking.”

 

Have you ever considered focusing on the blue team or the defensive side of cybersecurity?

The majority of John's YouTube content and the work he does in his role at Huntress Labs heavily involves the red team and offensive side of cyber. However, John is a huge advocate for the blue team and the red team collaborating and communicating better. Through making more concepts in cybersecurity accessible through educational content like John’s own videos, he hopes we can continue to bridge the gap and achieve that perfectly mixed purple team.

“We're all playing in concert. As one team sharpens their skills in the red team pen test, then it's up to the blue team to figure that out. What did they do? How can we better detect it? How can we stop and mitigate that security threat?”

 

What advice do you have for red team content creators that want to share content and spread awareness safely?

With the impact that he’s had and the content he’s put out onto the internet, John is no stranger to seeing the negative side of cybersecurity knowledge being more accessible than ever before.

 

Still, he wants to make sure content creators understand the value of transparency and honesty in what they do. Instead of fearing what could be, cultivate a community around making this level of knowledge and security available to everyone.

“Share, be transparent, be forthcoming. I know there are a lot of conversations about gatekeeping in cybersecurity, but there shouldn't be that. I understand there's grit and determination and hard work to do all the things that you're doing, but be friendly and be transparent and honest.”

----------

Links:

Check out our guest, John Hammond, on YouTube and LinkedIn.

Keep up with Hacker Valley on our website, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

Follow Ron Eddings on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Catch up with Chris Cochran on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord.

A Solopreneur’s First Imperfect Step with Claire Gallagher

A Solopreneur’s First Imperfect Step with Claire Gallagher

August 23, 2022

Claire Gallagher, Designer and Solopreneur Strategist, comes to Hacker Valley to break down branding, visibility, and choosing solopreneurship over business ownership. Combining the terms solo and entrepreneur, solopreneurs are a different breed of business owner, and Claire has made it her mission to help them not make the same business mistakes she once made. Claire walks through the essentials of how her business caters to individuals looking to go it alone and how to make an impact while staying small. 

Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Introducing the concept of solopreneurship

[04:32] Shifting to business strategy to better serve a client base

[09:19] Deciding alone as a solo entrepreneur

[16:40] Pricing your work and validating your professional value

[24:46] Making peace with looking silly as a business owner

 

Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and Uptycs for bringing this episode to life!

The Axonius solution correlates asset data from existing solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory, uncover gaps, and automate action — giving IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity. Learn more at axonius.com/hackervalley
 

With Uptycs, modern defenders can prioritize, investigate and respond to threats across the entire attack surface—all from a common solution: uptycs.com

 

Why did you choose to go down a path of catering to solopreneurs, versus working with enterprises or small and medium businesses?

Claire has dabbled in building teams and working in larger businesses in the past, but her calling has always brought her back to a company of one. For solopreneurs, Claire explains, it’s not that they cannot afford hiring employees or scaling their business. Instead, a solopreneur’s focus is on the balance between work and life, along with the power and experience to make their own decisions about their business. 

“I'm a loud introvert. I could talk all day, but essentially, I'm kind of introverted in secret. Generally, I like to work alone, to get into a creative flow, to not have anybody to answer to. This company of one, this solopreneurship, it suits my energy and my temperament.”

 

What are some of the pros and cons of going it alone as a solopreneur and keeping your business small? 

There are pros and cons in business, no matter the size. Claire’s strongest pro for becoming a solo entrepreneur has been her ability to pivot without impacting anyone but herself. Pivoting towards strategy was a hard decision, but it was so much easier to make on her own. Unfortunately, making decisions on one’s own can also be a con of solopreneurship. Claire has seen clients have a lack of accountability in sticking with their decisions when they don’t have anyone working with them.

“That's a pro, I was able to pivot without having to hire people, sack people, and really invest heavily in changing everything. That's a real plus, I could just pivot like that and it was a decision that I made, and I was responsible for it.” 

 

At what point would you recommend a solopreneur, or content creator, to reach out to someone like you so they could shine in this digital world?

Although solo entrepreneurs thrive in business on their own, it’s important to never go it alone. Claire advises that early stage solopreneurs consider the community around them and build their business with a healthy curiosity in books, online resources, and virtual communities of fellow entrepreneurs. As they progress through their business, Claire also recommends connecting with a coach or strategist, like herself, to go further faster and avoid careless mistakes.

“Solopreneurs think, ‘I'm smart, I can figure this out.’ Yes, you can, but to go further faster, I think you need to work with a mentor or a coach or strategist. You're always going to get further faster by finding somebody who understands what you're trying to achieve.”

 

What are some of the tenants that you teach people about coming across as authentically as possible?

Branding is a vital element of content creation and business ownership. However, the current world craves branding that comes across as authentic. Claire explains that authenticity comes from a willingness to make mistakes and put yourself out there, even if it feels or looks silly the first time. If a solopreneur is honestly trying to deliver value, that will show through any first-time awkwardness or silliness and still feel authentic to potential clients.

“Starting before you feel ready is really the only way that you can start because you can't know everything until you've tried some stuff. Showing up and making mistakes and maybe seeming a little bit foolish at the start, take it. That's what's gonna happen.”

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Links:

Keep up with Claire Gallagher on LinkedIn and at ClaireCreative.com

Connect with Ron Eddings on LinkedIn and Twitter

Connect with Chris Cochran on LinkedIn and Twitter

Purchase a HVS t-shirt at our shop

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord

Check out Hacker Valley Media and Hacker Valley Studio