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[Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

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don

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Post Mon Jun 16, 2008 12:20 pm

[Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

Here we go...

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The sub-title to my recent presentation at the SANS WhatWorks in Pen Testing Summit is Remodeling your career for little to no money down. Inside you'll find practical exercises in finding out who you are and what gets your blood flowing. And, although I do offer some advice on pushing your career in this growing field of ethical hacking with some inexpensive (and sometimes free) actions one can take, none of that seemed to be what struck a chord with the crowd.

One of the bullet points paraphrases a quote from the movie, Risky Business, when Joel's father says in a more PC kind of way that, "Every now and then you just have to say what the heck. Make your move." And that is what I did. At the risk of being laughed off the stage, I gave a non-technical talk at a technical conference and talked about life choices, family priorities and the dirty laundry of the male dominated IT world.

I've always been honest and willing to share with the community, and so I will continue to do so. The talk did not inspire everyone, but to the many that came up to me afterwards and the following day with their own career stories and to offer compliments go my deepest gratitude. As promised, I agreed to record this speech and share the MP3 file as well as the slide deck with all of you. Forgive me in advance, but much of the presentation is very personal, but I truly feel that it drives the point home (pun intended).



Let me know what you think. And be honest... I can take it.  ;D

Don
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vijay2

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Post Mon Jun 16, 2008 1:17 pm

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

I was there and i can attest that it was great presentation and 80% of the crowd liked it and appreciated it. I agree there were some thing which might have rubbed some people in a wrong way but hey as u said " somebody had to say it ".

Very Well done Don

VJ
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LSOChris

Post Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:14 pm

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

what did he say that could have rubbed people the wrong way?
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RoleReversal

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Post Tue Jun 17, 2008 4:07 am

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

ChrisG wrote:what did he say that could have rubbed people the wrong way?


Not much, unless I missed part of it.

Great talk btw Don, enjoyed it
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don

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Post Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:09 am

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

Hey All,

I guess I should expand on this a little more. There really isn't much in the way of controversy here. If anything, it's simply opening up a community-wide conversation on a topic that isn't discussed much and one that few people would rather avoid altogether. For those who would rather avoid it and only talk tech 100% of the time, I'm sure it's uncomfortable at a tech conference.

There may be a little controversy as I alluded in the intro when I say that I aired the dirty laundry of the IT world. In the speech I talk a lot about personal intraspection, family and priorities in your own lives, as this is a very important thing to consider when deciding on career paths. But what may have rubbed people the wrong way is that I called out many in the IT field (not just security and/or pen testing) who seem to brag about being divorced as though it was cool.

Now that was a very small portion of the talk, but, seeing as how many came up to me and spoke about how they're glad I said it and that someone finally talked about family at an IT Conference, it seemed as though I was simply saying what was on a lot of people's minds.

Honestly, while giving the speech, I didn't think there was too much that was controversial. But when I walked off stage, the applause was very luke warm. Maybe it was the fact that it was late in the day or that I was making a lot of people think. Either way, it wasn't until afterwards in the hallways, at the vendor sponsored social activities that evening and even the next day where I started to hear lots of positive feedback. But it seemed as though everyone wanted to talk about careers, family, kids and everything I mention in the talk but almost in a clandestine way. Like if the other "guys" heard me talking about, they'd look at me funny.

So even though we are in a male dominated field, all of our conversations at these events don't have to be lockerroom-style chat. We can actually have real conversations and get personal. To me... that's cool.

Don
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LSOChris

Post Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:17 pm

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

ok i'm following on the "divorce is cool" thing.  its really just a coping mechanism for losing half or more of all your shit.

people that want to get into this should realize that usually there is alot of travel involved and that can strain a marriage or relationship.
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don

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Post Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:51 pm

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

And losing your kids. I'm a product of divorce, so this hits close to home for me. But I'm not alone. Stats say I am nowhere near the only one.

As I say in the talk, as IT people, when work is done, what do we do at night and on the weekends? We play on our computers. Since we play on computers all the time, we start to think like them... in binary. On or Off. Logical and not emotional. We can be very anal. Bottom line, we're not easy people to be married to. Add travel into the equation, and it can be really tough.

It is a necessary evil in an industry that changes as much as ours, but balance should be a goal if the other things in life are important to you.

And I'm not trying to hold myself out there as the perfect example. I'm far from it. But I work my a$$ off on my marriage and on my relationships with my kids just as I do on my career. Hell, that's why I do this site. It allows me to grow my career, continue learning and give back to the community all without enormous amounts of travel.

Good thing I don't sleep much.  ;)

Don
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Post Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:57 pm

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

don wrote:And losing your kids. I'm a product of divorce, so this hits close to home for me. But I'm not alone. Stats say I am nowhere near the only one.


Same here, close to home.

But I think a lot of what you said was truthfull so no-one can really complain that much. From my perspective I listened through the 'techies are hard to live with' part, and the first thing I did was hit re-wind as I called my better half up stairs for a Budweiser true, true moment.

The talk hit a lot of right notes with me and I feel I got a lot from it, both retrospectively and looking to the future, thanks.
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Post Tue Jun 17, 2008 1:28 pm

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

It's true. 

I've upset my other half more than once... because I get home after 10 hours at the office... on computers, and the first thing I do half the time is boot up my home lappy and sit there.  I got home at 9 at night once... went to my computer, and multi-tasked between that and the tv for about 40 minutes before I hear a very grumpy and put off GF standing behind my chair in a robe.  She'd been waiting for me, without the robe.. since she knew I was on my way home from the office.  It was at that point I decided on some basics...

#1.  'Wetware' gets priority when I'm at home.
#2.  Check in on the living breathing members of my house.. before I grab hold of my cherrished laptop. 
#3.  Um.. still working on more complex directions, but keeping it simple seems to work. 

I don't know about others, but I am a rather focused person.  Once I get going on something... I continue with blinders on half the time.  You're quite right Don... we are not the easiest people to live with. 
"Bad.. Good?  I'm the guy with the gun"
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Post Tue Jun 17, 2008 1:44 pm

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

umm, 10 hours in the office seems like a holiday at the moment. Several 20+ shifts recently are starting to take their toll.

Might try your list out, I think my missus may thank you for it ;) (although I did manage to take the hound for a walk before checking to see if I had any new mail [or EH posts ;) ] tonigh, which is an improvement for me)
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slimjim100

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Post Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:00 pm

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

I recently took a job where I could work from home to make sure I had more time for the wife and kids. Let me tell you one thing working from home is soooo much harder than going into an office as there are a billion more distractions at home and 3 year olds do not understand daddy is in his office so we have to keep it down. I have to say I actually get more work done and have more time with my kids but I do feel I have to work alot harder to get things done. For some time I was just carrier focused and it almost cost my marriage so I had to sit down and find a balance.  Trying to find that balance sometimes puts you in a place where you have to make real hard decisions.

my 2 cents...

Brian

BTW: Don that was a awesome talk. I was going to listen to it while working but I found myself not working and just listening.
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don

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Post Wed Jun 18, 2008 11:03 am

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

Hey Guys,

Thanks for all the compliments. Help me get the word out to a wider audience and vote/digg this talk:

http://digg.com/security/Podcast_DIY_Ca ... al_Hacking

Thanks,
Don
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dalepearson

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Post Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:29 pm

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

Hiya Don,

good presentation, and you had some refreshing "true" comments to.
Keep up the good work, and enjoy that family.

All the best going full time with your solo projects.

Dale
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schrodo

Post Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:02 am

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

Don,

Great talk, it hit home for me.  As I was telling you after your talk, you inspired me to make a change, I started by telling my work that I am changing my status with them, I am no longer going to travel 6 months a year doing pen-tests and security audits and I am in the process of starting my own audit company where i can spend time not just money with my wife and 2 daughters.  If all goies well, I should make more money and be wealthier in my personal life!

thanks Don
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Post Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:21 pm

Re: [Article]-DIY Career in Ethical Hacking

I finally got a chance to listen to the presentation and flip through the slides today :)

Very good talk, Don. Honest and truthful. Sometimes people just don't like to hear the truth I guess, so I suppose that's why some people may have taken it differently. As expected, there is certainly some great advice in that talk.

I really don't get the "it's cool to be divorced" thing. I haven't been around long enough to come across anyone like this yet, but if I do I'll be sure to ask them why they're like that. I don't see how it's something to be proud of. Prior to my current marriage, I had a relationship end because she felt that too much of my spare time was focused on computers and not her. It still bothers me to this day and I try to stay away from that routine so that more of my time is spent with my family.

Thanks, Don.

BillV
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