Published: Thu 23 July 2020
hacking defcon pandemic So, um, yeah...
I'm not sure there would be much point to a full recap of the last nine months.
In many ways, my life during that time has been the same as everyone else's:
lock-down since March, though we can get out a bit since summer. I wear a mask,
I haven't been to a bar in months, my social life is primarily online. In some
places the streets are on fire and for others things have been pretty bad. Life
is scary, but life goes on.
After my last update, I attended the third annual
Wild West Hackin'
Fest, which as usual was a fantastic event.
While I was there I met a hiring manager from BSI, the British Standards
Institute. They had recently bought a state-side penetration firm called AppSec,
and they were hiring. After I got home from the con, and a few phone calls with
BSI AppSec, I accepted my first penetration tester role. So, for me, working
from home full time started in January, for which I am thankful. I had a few
months to adjust before lock-down.
I only worked at BSI for less than six months. While I feel I was successful
there, and I was treated well, I had a difficult time fitting in with a group
that was more of a bench than a team. Our work was in almost all cases solo,
not my bag. In May I was approached by a former colleague who
had recently joined a company going into growth mode, and he asked if I
would come aboard as Staff Engineer at Large, doing work much like I'd done
in the past, working with Kubernetes, DevSecOps, and developer advocacy,
while bringing my application security chops with me. After a week of phone
calls, I agreed to make the move, which is where I am today. Fully remote
forever, I'm about seven weeks in and I'm having a great time. I may write more
about this soon. Bees, gardens, hacking, hobbies...
My last bee journal was optimistic, but shortly after my post the hive was
robbed by surrounding colonies. After two days of carnage for which I had no
solution, the hive was silent. This was very sad for us for about a day, but
this is also the way of things. We shook it off, took the event as a learning
experience and moved on. This year we revived the old hive and added a second.
They seem to be doing well, honey production is under way, and both colonies
seem quite lively. More to come.
As per usual we planted two gardens in the front yard and one in the back. My
wife put a ton of effort into soil building since we'd had a couple of pretty
rotten years recently. We planted the usual tomatoes and peppers, but this year
we rotated other crops, planting squash and tomatoes further up the hill and
adding several rows of onions and beans. We've planted perennial herbs, garlic
(which I still can't seem to get the hang of) and our first tomatillo plant
enormous and absolutely beautiful. We've already harvested several
pounds of green beans and a grip of squash and zucchinni. Tomatoes are coming in
well, as are the tomatillos. I've also got several plants of a more recreational
variety growing in pots in the back yard that I'm hopeful will yield. There are
also six sunflowers that have grown taller than me, though they haven't flowered
During the first part of the shut-down, work got pretty slow. My employer
decided to have me enroll in
AWAE program to get my OSWE
certification. Oh! I haven't mentioned that in addition to pursuing penetration
testing as a profession, after WWHF I signed up to take my CISSP! I studied for
a number of weeks, less so during the holidays, and ultimately took and passed
my test at the end of January. For the first time, dig me, I'm certified.
So, anyway, I spent about a month studying for the OSWE, but this got put on
hold with the job change. While I don't see myself necessarily going back into
testing, I do value my skills in application security, so I decided to resume my
studies after DEFCON SafeMode the second week of August. Just this week I
renewed my lab time and maintained my testing date of October 1. With my wife
and youngest starting back to university about that time, I'll have plenty of
time to focus on my own studies and to try to nail that test. Try harder!
By now, everyone who cares knows that
DEFCON is cancelled!
While this is a tremendous bummer, the show must go on remotely! A huge number
of people are working very hard to give us a free, online version of DEFCON to
enjoy, and for this I am grateful. I've purchased my badge, which this year is
a magnetic audio cassette, and I intend to dedicate the weekend to participating
as much as I can. I'm way excited, I think it's going to be a great time. Hobbies
Our weekly game night decided right away to go virtual. We all bought and
downloaded TableTop Simulator on Steam and I subscribed to as many of our
favorite games as I could. Since going virtual we've only missed two weeks'
play! I've continued to buy paper games during this hiatus from physical
contact, one because I love them and want them to feel normal, and two so that I
can contribute to keeping my favorite local game store open. My LGS is once
again open to the public, with masks, so I have gone down to visit a couple of
Many of my other hobbies have really fallen by the wayside, despite what my
other updates suggest. The pandemic has at times been pretty hard on me, as it
has for all of us, and for a few months now I've had difficulty getting
motivated to do much beyond what was needful, and watching TV. I bought a 3D
printer this past winter which, though getting a lot of use at first (and
printing many mask strap extenders for local nurses) and prompting me to start
learning CAD, has sat dormant for weeks now. I have RasperryPis, new and
exciting wifi hacking gear, and many other toys gathering dust.
This is starting to pass, however, as some fog within me has started to lift and
I find myself interested in things again. I've been lucky that thus far I've
been free to choose how I react to the state of the world. Many have not had
that luxury. I've got a list of fun things that I can do from the safety of my
own home. I have friends and loved ones who keep in touch with me every day. I
have a lot to be grateful for. Best keep moving.