2017: The future is now
What a year 2017 has been! I’ve been on so many awesome adventures I’ve had hardly any time to maintain my blog. In this post, which I opted to write more like a journal entry, I’ll talk about some of my adventures and a few goals I’m setting for myself in 2018.
2017 has been, without a doubt, a wild year! It all started off with the journey of a lifetime – a roadtrip I’ve been wanting to go on since I was in highschool. In May a good friend of mine, whom I met online gaming many years ago, flew to Ottawa from the Netherlands to roadtrip across canada with me. This was my first time meeting Jurre in person even though we met online 8 years ago playing Minecraft. In a little over a month Jurre and I drove all the way from Ontario to BC and back taking in all of the beautiful sights Canada has to offer. From the extremely flat prairies to the stunning rocky mountains this country is absolutely amazing and I’m so blessed to be able to live and grow up here. Hands down my favourite part of the trip was the caving experience Jurre and I went on. We got to traverse 1km deep into a naturally formed cave on the side of a mountain! Being able to travel the country has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while and it did not disappoint! Next up Jurre and I are planning to travel Europe together in summer of 2018!
Over the summer of 2017 I had the chance to live out my dream of being an intern in San Francsicso. I was fortunate enough to be part of GitHub’s internship program, specifically as their product security intern. While there I met some extremely talented and kind people who taught me so much! The whole GitHub experience was even more than I could imagine… from dogs wandering the office to challenging security-related programming problems to the people who make up the company, interning at GitHub was never a dull moment.
Furthermore the experience of living in San Francisco with my roommate Joseph was unreal. Joseph and I did a lot of sight seeing on the weekends seeing things like the Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies and other local events such as sofar sounds (local concerts). Terron, a good friend of mine, also came down to visit me in SF! The first night she was in SF we went to a concert inside of this church like building, it was my first time at a live performance and I really enjoyed it! Living there for a few months really enabled me to see some local sights which tourists would normally miss. If you’re ever there you need to check out the Bi-rite creamery in the Mission district.
However the end of the internship was actually only just the beginning of my time with GitHub. I’m so excited to say that I’ll be going back to GitHub full-time starting summer of 2018 as a Product Security Engineer! I’ll be moving to Colorado some time this summer to get started as a full time employee.
These past few months Paul and I (co-chairs) have been working with 12 other extremely dedicated students to organize uOttaHack, the University of Ottawa’s first ever MLH hackathon. Our goal is to bring approximately 450 extremely talented students of all backgrounds to uOttawa for 24 hours of hacking, developing and inventing. Running an event of this scale is no small task but I’m happy to say that our team is on track to a very successful event! We’ve raised tens of thousands of dollars, booked an entire building on campus for a weekend and have had just under a thousand students apply to attend uOttaHack! After having attended many hackathons throughout my university career I’m so glad I am able to share this experience with other uOttawa students. Cya in February uOttaHack!!
I’m also an avid gamer, so I couldn’t finish uni without running at least one LAN party! Each year the local school IEEE branches band together to run Battle Royale, a 24hr LAN charity for CHEO. This year I’m working with a team of 10 talented students to organize the eleventh edition of Battle Royale which will be taking place in March! We’re hard at work getting all of the graphics, website and marketing materials good to go so that we can start advertising the event in the new year! We’re expecting approximately 100 gamers to show up and game the night away – raising money for CHEO.
These past few months I’ve been attending quite a few more conferences to try and sharpen up my security skills. Plus I realized that this will be my last year where I can take advantage of the student discounts so I attened as many security related conferences as possible. My marks definitely took a hit but I’d say that it was a fair trade off for the amount of knowledge I got from attending all of these conferences.
Hands down my favourite conference was hackfest in Quebec City. At hackfest there was a social engineering CTF which required participants to social engineer companies to get specific information (NOTE all information was not recorded, and the companies were notified). I was truly amazed at how easy it was to get information just by posing as someone you’re not. I also managed to come 2nd place (out of 100) in the CMD’n’CTRL CTF run by Security Innovations at Hackfest! I also had a go at some more physical security challenges such as Wireless hacking, RFID hacking, door shimming, breaking out of handcuffs, laptop lockpicking and much more!
Next on the list of exciting conferences was G33kW33k where I spent and intense 9 days working with many security experts from around the world to try and detect and stop malware earlier. This conference was more of a hackathon style event where we worked in teams to develop a security related project. This was my first time really working with Python and I must say the language is really slick. Its perfect for any hackathon since it’s easy to read yet can it can do so much! If you’re a student interested in security I’d highly recommend checking G33kW33k out! G33kW33k also had a CTF on the first night which I managed to come second place in!
The last conference I want to talk about is SecTor. This year uOttawa funded Abdul and I to attend Security Education Conference Toronto (SecTor) to go and learn about the latest cyber security threats. We’re working with Prof. Knox to develop a secure software design course at the university. While I enjoyed sector I found the talks to be too high level – I felt like it was more business/cooperate oriented unlike the other conferences I had attended. Thankfully through all of the events I attended I feel like I have plenty of information to pass on to Prof. Knox to make a kickass design of secure software course for future CS students.
I really wanted to share my passions for whitehat hacking with the other students of uOttawa. So back in November Abdul and I ran an entry level CTF for other students to have a go at practicing hacking. We had about 30 people show up and attempt to break my challenges with a few solving almost every challenge – congrats to hack.carleton for their first place win! The source to the challenges along with the solutions can be found on my GitHub – no peeking until you attempt the challenges. :)
These past few months have been jam packed with school and other events but somehow I still managed to find a bit of free time. I recently picked up PUBG and have really been enjoying the game. Over the past 2 months I’ve put a solid 200 hours into the game. If you’re thinking of picking up the game its ridiculously buggy and requires stupid specs to run at any decent framerate but also totally worth it imo. Getting your first winner winner chicken dinner is a pretty good feeling haha!
This past November I participated in Movember again. Movember is something close to me, I’ve been participating since 1st year uni. My uncle recently passed away from cancer so I dedicated this year’s Movember campaign to him and I must say we did an amazing job! The community came together to help me raise over $1250 to donate towards cancer research and men’s health – I couldn’t be more proud of everyone for helping me reach my goal! Other than those two things my personal life really has just been working towards my career and school goals. I think you could say that 2017 has been a real…
Starting in 2018 I’m hoping to blog more often with more technical blog posts. I’ve been doing quite a bit with my raspberry pi behind the scenes here and I want to share some of that knowledge with y’all. I have a backlog of ideas for technical posts that I just need to take the time to write up. I’m hoping that this year I’ll have some time to start writing posts on a more regular basis, maybe once a week?
Another, more ambitious goal, is to become more active and slightly healthier. I’m hoping to change that a bit in 2018, not necessarily by going to the gym but rather by walking more or skating on the canal. Furthermore I’m hoping to start to follow a more regular sleep & meal schedule – I think both of those would contribute to a much healthier lifestyle. We’ll see how it goes but small steps can make a big difference! Bring it on 2018!