Jeff's Open Road
It’s tough, but you need to be a generalist and you need to be a specialist—you need to be able to see the big picture so that you don’t put all of your energy into last year’s technology.
- He was a criminal justice major in college who always wanted to become an FBI agent and catch “bad guys.”
- Unfortunately, when he graduated, the federal agencies weren’t hiring anyone, so he decided to focus on his other interest: computers.
- Simultaneously, the internet boom started taking off, and he was hired by Ernst & Young as an information security consultant.
- While at Ernst & Young, he started the DEF CON and Black Hat conferences as a side project; at that point, computer security was still considered a hobby to a small community of people.
- He’s since completed 23 DEF CONs, and the culture has completely changed—now the whole world is watching and interested in security.
- Says that around DEF CON 3, the conference got too big for him to see everything; now he has to network and ask people, “What’d you experience?”
- He praises the “freewheeling and fun” atmosphere still found within the hacking community; advises road-trippers to network and collaborate with fellow hackers to build new technology.
- Says that the ever-changing tech landscape ensures his job security, but also keeps him on his toes trying to keep up; he has to be careful to avoid burnout.