This post is a continuation of my answers to the questions posed in the Tribe of Hackers book. I am answering these questions before reading the other responses in the book in an attempt at self-assessment. And to mark any changes of insight after consuming the book. This is part 4 out of 4.
12. What is some practical cybersecurity advice you give to people at home in the age of social media and the Internet of Things?
Be aware of what you’re putting online about yourself and whether that is important to you in any way. Ultimately, live life and don’t shy away from technology. Turn on automatic patching. Use unique passwords, and change them regularly.
13. What is a life hack that you’d like to share?
I don’t really have life hacks, or at least I don’t think of them that way. Just keep learning and improving. If something rubs you wrong or doesn’t seem like it is in its right place, fix it and/or move it, or change your attitude about it and move on. Be happy, but not at the expense of others.
14. What is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made, and how did you recover from it?
Professionally, I’ve not really made any large mistakes that have made me fearful about my job or even an annual review. However, I will cover a personal mistake, a professional mistake, and a career mistake anyway.
My biggest personal mistake may be my phoning in of high school and early college years, which led to low motivation in college and being 100% unsure about what career and life I wanted. I nearly failed out of college, but pulled myself back up after 2.5 years in a major that wasn’t calling me, and switched over to one that was, to successfully salvage the experience. I wish I had applied myself more in my younger years, but more so I wish I knew what I wanted earlier than I did. We are asked as young people to make life decisions very early, and often without enough preparation. That becomes a weighty decision experience. Then again, I wouldn’t change anything that has happened to me, as I enjoyed my childhood, and everything before now has directly led to where I am and who I am today.
My biggest professional mistake was probably assigning an ip address to a server that was an undocumented in0use address on the interface of our perimeter firewall. This address conflict brought down that interface, halting all traffic to and from the Internet. Obviously, troubleshooting this brought things back in 5 minutes, but that’s a pucker moment you’d rather not have to go through. Lessons learned, though: document everything, consult that documentation, and verify anyway.
For my career, my biggest mistake should be not having as confident a voice about my skills and knowledge that reflects my actual skills and knowledge. I have warred with imposter syndrome in the past, and I probably still war with it today when I think other people already know what I know, so why speak the obvious, right? But that’s folly. Even if that were true, speaking up still stokes the sociality of life, work, career, and networking with peers, which leads to connections, friends, learning, and growth. This is probably a small war I’ll fight until such a day as I am regularly teaching others in some measure of a formal setting.
At the end of the day, mistakes make us stronger and have made us who we are today. Learn from them, don’t be afraid of them. Go deeper. Try harder.