Career Notes 8.30.20
Ep 13 | 8.30.20

Jack Rhysider: Get your experience points in everything. [Media]


Jack Rhysider: My name is Jack Rhysider and I'm currently the host of the podcast Darknet Diaries. But before that, I was a network security engineer for 10 years at a Fortune 500 company.

Jack Rhysider: I don't know how, but my grandma got an Apple IIE when we were young. DOS hadn't even come out yet, like DOS was just coming out and she's buying computers before DOS is even here, like, who buys you buys that for their home? But she did.

Jack Rhysider: And so I was playing games and I was I was actually coding in like BASIC at the time and, you know, doing stuff. And it wasn't until I think AOL came around and I got connected to the Internet and that just kind of was amazing. Like that, I think is what made me say, OK, let me pursue a career in this. And I think my dad wanted me to be like a VCR repairman is what I think his hopes were. I was so glad I didn't take him up on that. So we got enrolled in in the university and I started going to classes to do some formal training. I was kind of young and naive and I felt like, OK, once I have a bachelors degree in computer engineering, companies will just be clamoring for me. You know, they'll be knocking on my door 10 at a time, but had a really tough time finding anything technical to do after I got my degree, which is so strange now that I look back at it, because the opportunities were endless, but I just didn't know where to look and I was a little too, I don't know, on my high horse.

Jack Rhysider: I was playing a lot of video games right before this, too, and I thought, let's make this a video game. Let me see if I can gain experience points in and just focus on this. Like, OK, the current mission is to accomplish the certificate. What do I need to do to get this mission complete? Like I had it in a kind of a gamification kind of mentality to to get these certs and thinking with a new fresh certificate and a degree that should be able to land me a job. And it sure did right away. Like pretty much the first place I called, they said, oh, yeah, we'll take you right away. And that was a NOC, network operation center, handling incidents for clients that their network would go down or there would be some sort of fault in the network. I would see that alert and then engage the person who needed to be engaged.

Jack Rhysider: Once I got my CCMP, that that NOC was kind of like, OK, you're ready for the big leagues. So they they somebody found a place for me in the in the engineering team and it was actually the security engineering team needed another engineer. And so they said, do you want to do it? And I said, yes. And I didn't really know exactly what security was at the time because I wasn't into it that much. I just was a little bit comfortable. But when I got over there and I was troubleshooting all kinds of things, I was realizing how important it was to know a little bit about everything. Because in security, you get this one weird problem that you only remember from college days studying that one time. Right? So it was it was such a great thing to have all of my wide experiences come together into a focus in security. And I think it was a perfect match for me. And so that's when I actually fell in love with security. That's when I started a blog called And the blog was really when I would have problems with the firewall or some device and I Googled it and the answers weren't there in Google or they were so deep in the Cisco documentation that it was like, oh my gosh, it took me an hour just to find this one thing. And so I was really trying to break down these really complicated topics, you know, in an easy to understand way. And I think that kind of paved the way for the podcast later.

Jack Rhysider: I wanted this show to exist. I wanted somebody to there's stuff that happened like six years ago that we're just getting a little bit more like like the guy got sentenced for a crime that he did six years ago. Somebody needs to go back and capture this entire story from from the beginning all the way to the end. It might have taken six years for us to get the whole story. I couldn't I didn't find anybody in the podcasting space doing that. Everyone was doing interviews or news in security but no one was doing these kinds of long form stories. And so I decided to read a book on how to podcast and started giving it a shot.

Jack Rhysider: And I was actually doing weekly episodes. I don't know how I was getting them out every week, but I was doing it with a full time job to get things going.

Jack Rhysider: One of the things that really resonated with me was a talk I watched from Leslie Carhart and Johnny Christmas. They said, if you want to be a rock star in security, don't try to publish like an amazing paper that's like a new kind of encryption or try to impress us, you know, other people in the cybersecurity space. Instead, go do a talk at COMICON, like go talk to, like, the average person and tell them you're a hacker and they'll totally get blown away by the stories you have, even if they're just basic run of the mill stories that we all have. Because you are hitting a general audience and they don't understand what you do. But when you explain to them in a way that they can understand, they're going to they're going to be blown away. And so that kind of really resonated with me. If I could hit the general audience with some of this stuff, what you know, what what could that do to them? That would be entertaining. That would be enlightening. That would be educational and maybe inspirational for them. And so, you know, that's that's always been something I've wanted to do. So it's it's really hard to walk both lines out.