Cybersecurity Expert Ax Sharma on Going Full On Into Breaking Things
The Tech Industry's Greenest Awards. Public Nominations Are Open. Voting Starts Aug 13.
1. Which 2020 Noonies have you been nominated for?
2. Tell us a bit about yourself.
As someone who's been coding since the age of 11, I transitioned into cybersecurity shortly after graduating with my software engineering degree and have loved the decision ever since! From building things and engineering solutions, I went full on into breaking things and securing them, and exploring what's behind the scenes. This has tremendously helped me as a professional expose myself to different technologies and languages, and learn along the way.
I'm a Security Researcher and Engineer who holds passion for perpetual learning. In my spare time, I love exploiting vulnerabilities, ethically and educating a wide range of audiences. I'm also an active community member of the OWASP Foundation and the British Association of Journalists (BAJ).
Ax’s expertise lies in vulnerability research, software development and web app security. Through responsible disclosure, he has previously exposed serious bugs and security vulnerabilities affecting national & global organisations like HM Government, Yodel, U.S. DHS, P.F. Chang’s, Planet Fitness, Comcast/Arris, Ellucian and the popular restaurant chain, Buca di Beppo.
In early 2018, I helped prevent a massive data breach at Georgia Tech by going public with a serious flaw which was left unpatched for over a year. I've since earned myself a place on Tech’s Vulnerability Reporters “hall of fame” page.
3. Tell us about the things you make / write / manage / build.
In my spare time, I love writing about technology as it helps me not only educate a wide range of audiences, but learn along the way. I've written over a 100 articles by now on cybersecurity and technology alone. Some of these were featured stories on Hacker Noon, CIO Magazine, CSO Online, BleepingComputer, Security Boulevard, and several other magazines.
While my day job of Security Researcher comprises digging through source code, reverse engineering software, and researching potential fixes to vulnerabilities, the writing gig is yet another form of research, analysis and information corroboration before publishing it, which I love. Digging deep into a topic enables you to learn more about it and empower yourself with that knowledge before you prepare to hit "publish" and share it with the world. It's a delightful feeling!
5. What are you most excited about right now?
Even the most stubborn companies going fully-remote: something remote workers had long pledged for, but the employers weren't listening or convinced it could work.
6. What are you worried about right now?
The economy: how the pandemic is shaping the world and all the people who have lost their jobs and livelihoods. If technology could fix it, it'd be a big win for all of us, as a society.
7. What's the most useful advice you've ever given somebody?
That'd be on how to start a career in cybersecurity. I often start off by asking, "What's your current role?" and help them find a match that incorporates cybersecurity element but also overlaps with at least some of their current job duties.
This helps them "test waters" and see if this field is something that they'll really enjoy, because movies and TV often give a distorted idea of what an actual cybersecurity job may be like. It's not always like a bond movie: good guys chasing the bad ones and a security breach happening every minute.
For example, if a lawyer asked me they wanted to transition into information security (and yes they have!), I'd probably suggest exploring the regulatory (governance and compliance) side first, rather than suggesting going full-on into pen-testing.
8. How has the pandemic changed your life and/or career?
The lack of social activities made me and if I may, most people, find alternate routes of relaxation, creativity and self-exploration. The time that'd otherwise have been spent in a pub or in a nightclub, for most people, has now become a time to enjoy simpler pleasures of life: reading a book, taking a walk, dancing outside, learning online about something new, writing cool stuff, and helping each other through these times.
Ever since the pandemic, I've been focusing even more on my writing and tech journalism efforts, and it has only helped me learn further, and educate more people.
9. If we gave you $10 million to invest in one thing right now, where would you put it?
Be careful, I may create a Hacker Noon's rival site! ;) The thought of a "neutral" ad-free platform where everyone can express their opinions without curators endorsing extremes or siding with any party has been on the list. Of course, it's difficult to get this one right.
10. What's an opinion you have that most people don't agree with?
I can easily play contrarian with almost any opinion even if I agree with it and especially if it's a popular one. That means, it's best I kept that opinion to myself lest I be roasted.
11. What or Who are you keeping an eye on in 2020?
Security breaches, the changing society, evolving work landscape, and giant houses with backyards so you could actually not care about a lockdown when and if it does happen again.
NOONIES NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN ACROSS 5 CATEGORIES — technology, decentralization, software development, future heroes, and back to the internet, blockchain — UNTIL AUGUST 12, 2020!
For much the same reasons Hacker Noon decided not to put good ideas behind pop-ups or paywalls — nor abuse your personal data to target you with creepy ads — we also decided that you don’t have to be a #thinkfluencer or have 50k followers on Twitter to earn the recognition that comes with a 2020 Noonie Nomination.
Make somebody’s day and nominate them to be recognized in the internet’s most independent and community-driven awards: NOONIES.TECH.
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