How I got interested in security?
I wanted to write a different blog post today, but I couldn’t find the needed time for research. As you know, I have a full-time job I need to do. I will do a series of posts about Chinese CDBC and what their plans are for digital yuan. A lot of politics, tech wars, and explaining to do in these posts. But that will be in another article. Right now, I will tell you my story of how I got really interested in security and computing in general.
Warning, I’m super tired right now, so I may be telling inappropriate jokes, and you will see the insides of my mind. 👻
All good stories like that start with the “When I was X years old…” or with tech geniuses “When I was still in the womb…”. I wanted to be different but can’t think of a better start, so here we go.
When I was a young folk (ha! a bit different), I can remember I was always surrounded by some sorts of tech objects. It was thanks to my dad whose also a technology nerd and always wanted to have new devices. My mom told me once a story about how my dad spent all of their 3 months' worth of pay-check to buy ZX Spectrum. I wonder if some things are passed through generation and generation 🤔 (typing on 16inch MacBook Pro)?
So when I was growing up, my dad had a home workshop where he would fix other people's computers, take them apart and re-assemble. I was watching and learning how to do it myself. I wanted to be like my dad and be able to do things like this.
When we got Amiga 500, I watched my brother type some commands into the terminal to change the system fonts, run some games, or change the system cursor. I was 4-5 at the time and was fascinated by this. I can't of course verify if all of that was possible, but I was little, and my memory can play tricks on me.
Time passes, I grew older, maybe I played much more than I should, but through gaming and the above, I was hooked on learning how things really work under the hood and what I can do to make a game like this? I started learning C, learning about game engines, learning about operating systems, and step by step. I was really into computing, not only using computers and consoles to play games. I started to understand on the surface how things were working.
The most significant breakthrough was when I bought Playstation Portable, or PSP for short. I got the original console PSP-1000 (Still got it!). After completing GTA Liberty City Stories, I wanted to know how to install custom software on the device? How can I hack it? I read a lot about the process, spent a significant amount of time on different polish online forums about PSP. After a while, I decided to finally give it a try to hack my console. There were many shaky hands, not knowing exactly what I was doing; I didn’t want to brick my device; I checked the motherboard number 10 times before I was sure it can perform such actions on my unit. After few hours of constant checking everything and going through step by step…Success! Custom software was installed, and I was able to play Doom on my PSP!
This was like an avalanche for me. I got deep into modding my PSP system, installing custom themes, automating custom software installation. Learning how to unbrick your devices after accidental bricking because I was curious what would happen if I don’t plug PSP into power when doing a software update. I spent a lot of my time on PSP Polish forums. I can’t remember its name now, but when I checked it a while ago, it was bought by somebody else, and it changed its name.
During this time, I learned a lot, and I wanted to know more. As I said, it was an avalanche. During and after PSP, all the devices that I owned were modded/hacked. I had my Nokia E51 in high school, with Symbian OS, and I was using it as a calculator in classes but man! Having an emulator installed on that thing and playing some Gameboy games or even installing the first Quake! Boring classes weren't dull anymore. Magical times and I thought to myself if I can play the first Quake on such a tiny phone, what would be possible in the future? Now we have M1 chip inside the newest iPad Pros and do creative work on such a machine without touching a laptop.
PSP and later in my life, rooting my android devices and learning how it worked in depth taught me how to think differently about security and devices that you own. If I can do something like that, what people who are much smarter than me can do computers and different devices? How I can secure myself and others so it won’t lead to catastrophic failures. This was also the time when Stuxnet happened, and I watched this great talk from Mikko Hypponen:
I knew that I want to be on the right side of the story and help other secure themselves. I always kept that in the back of my mind when I was learning different stuff, being completely lost in University. I knew I want in the future to work in the IT Security field.
Time went by, I did various things when I finally got hooked into Blockchain technology in 2016, and my actual career has started. When working on smart contracts, I knew what I wanted to do, work as a security auditor. I worked on my skills and worked various blockchain jobs (I can do another article just for that topic). Last year, I joined Certik.io, where I’m working as a Smart Contract Security Auditor, and I couldn’t be happier.
I cherish where I am and what I can learn from others. Just thinking about I’m helping to secure the new decentralized financial systems on the internet, push the industry forward by working on the forefront of the security of the blockchain, that’s what I wouldn’t even imagine as a kid when I first saw Doom menu pop up on my PSP, with a big smile on my face.
This post took different turns, but I hope you liked my story and what I had to tell. I had quite a weary week, and I didn’t have the strength for a good post I wanted to write, but nevertheless, this whole 100 days of blogging is about my journey and for you to see what it is like to write for 100 days. It’s not always working out as you want, but for me, the fact I can post to my blog another one of my writings is enough of accomplishments to keep going.
Take care and see you tomorrow! Mahalo 🤙!