How I hacked my way to the security sector

Hello friend, hello friend.

It’s been too long, I know.

But the thing is, that I owe you a lot. I owe you my whole life, my freedom and almost all of my experiences. I owe you an explanation on why I stopped communicating and why I ghosted you in the worst way possible.

But let’s get things from the start. Way back in time. And let me tell you a story about my life and how I hacked my way to the security sector. Maybe then you will understand.

TLDR” Go to the last section for your motivational speech…

The early days

Everything starts at the age of 12. I was visiting one of my uncles to play with fellow humans of my age, when I saw him clicking loudly and fast, and watching a screen full of lines. This was the first interaction I had with a terminal, which I can definitely describe as magical.

From there on, I was trying to find excuses every week to visit my uncle, in order to make a mess of his programming books and computer magazines (oh, those magazines). I started to learn how to code simple programs in C, which seemed like magic at the start.

After a couple of years I was sure that I wanted to create stuff and interact with computers my whole life. I wanted to be a “developer”, but that dream got crushed after a short walk to the local newspaper shop at the age of 16. This was when I saw a magazine named “Total Hacker”, which was a small gift issue supplied by a well known computer magazine. I didn’t hesitate a second. I bought it and I spend the next hours and days reading through it again and again, searching online for the mentioned links and technologies through my DSL line.

The thrill I felt 4 years ago at my uncles place, passed through me once more.

Cr0w’s Place, The start

At that point, and after many issues of the magazine, I started thinking that I have to do something of my own. I have to share all those exciting experiences I had in the infosec world and share my “knowledge” with the world.

This is when Cr0w’s Place was born.

It was at the early ages of YouTube, when “hacking tutorials” were videos with a terminal and really loud electronic or metal music as the background. But I was more civilized. I knew that this wasn’t just my hobby, I knew I wanted to be more “professional” than the kids running BackTrack tools in a terminal and trying to hide because they were supposedly “crossing the lines” in a stupid and unnecessary way. My thrill was originating from the raw knowledge and skills I was able to find by myself and I was interested in the deeper knowledge of this field.

Of course everything started with higher level stuff, video tutorials about “hacking” with some really successful ones about “hacking with android”. All these, alongside the blog, was the starting point and the reason behind the Cr0w’s Place “branding”, which initiated my life in the infosec world.

I was influencing young hacker padawans, before influencers was even an idea… {Insert LOL here}

Jokes asside, this was the first step into a long way that hasn’t been over yet.

So, I can get paid from my hobby?

After a year of videos and posts that really got traction that I never expected, I wrote an article about creating a custom WiFi Pineapple. At that point I knew I had knowledge that I could share, I had the means of sharing (at a period when many people were confused about social media), and I had a couple of connections in the local infosec world.

And this is when my first “real” work comes to play, in the biggest Greek hacking magazine, named DeltaHacker. It was an initiative of the writers of the previously mentioned TotalHacker, but in a non restrictive way by some big parent publisher. So, I got a message from the team that they wanted me to write a detailed article series about my WiFi Pineapple post, where I would explain how someone can build it at home, way cheaper than the original one.

And I would get paid for it!!!!

Yes, that was a big thing for me. I was 19 years old, with no academic or professional experience, and despite that, I got a proposal. Yes, the money was almost nothing, but considering the nature of this magazine, the love I had about the community and the love that those people had about their magazine, it was and it still is one of the biggest honors in my life.

At my time working in DeltaHacker, I wrote several articles, mainly technical, in a broad area of topics and technologies. That, alongside my articles and videos for Cr0w’s Place, helped me discover more areas of the security sector, research about more topics and dig deeper than I though that I can.

Durring that time though, my country was in deep shit, which meant that companies like Parabing (the parent company of DeltaHacker) could not afford many external writers and had to invent other ways in order to survive.

That led me into searching for something different, wanting to leave my country as not so many opportunities existed, but being restricted from my academic studies.

That’s where Hakin9 media came to my life. As an security enthusiast I was always intrigued by payed security trainings, certificates, etc. Many people that were working in the industry had them, but mainly because their company paid them. So, navigating to one of the training websites I already knew (Pentest mag), I thought that I can definitely create something like this. Teach people about topics I already had deep knowledge of. So, a couple of emails later I had an other opportunity to work for them in my first workshop as an instructor, with a way better payout than my last endeavors.

Do it with passion or don’t do it at all

There are a hundred more things that happened during those years, and hundreds more that happened the years after, until now. Good and bad things, things that contribute to who I am.

We might discuss more in a part 2 or we might never discuss more. We might talk about my work with some of the biggest car manufacturers in the world, the military and others. We might talk about my 0days and my ongoing security research. About my academic life and my academic paper in blockchains and cryptography, that took almost two years to get published.

Or we might not talk about any of these.

But in the end I want you to get one thing, friend

Everything you do, do it with passion

Everything you do, do it with respect to yourself and your life

Accept that we are not invincible

Appreciate every moment and keep moving forward… And even if you fall, try to stand up cause another fucking fall awaits in the corner for you…

Be present, be kind and support the fucking community that made you who you are today…

Don’t make everything for money, and in the end money will come… And even if they don’t, happiness will come because in the end you enjoyed every fucking minute of your life, doing what you truly love…

It’s not always about work and passion about what you do…

Love yourself, what you do and the people in your life

I don’t know if you truly are out there, friend, but even if those words, this blog, I, can help one person out there achieve his/her dream, Cr0w’s place did something right…

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
– John Keating, Dead Poets Society

Farewell friend, it was nice talking you you again…

Cr0wTom

3 thoughts on “How I hacked my way to the security sector

  1. Thank you for this! I woke up feeling burnt out, not feeling that originating passion. For whatever reason, your post gave me that second wind to really accept recent failings, because there WILL be another around the corner. I just need to persevere, give the family a hug and a big thank you, and keep doing what I love. Even when it sucks.

    1. Thank you for your words, really appreciate them and as I said in the post “even if those words, this blog, I, can help one person out there achieve his/her dream, Cr0w’s place did something right”

      Keep going, keep dreaming and love what you do 100%… 🙂

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