We connected with HipHop Hacker @JackMobb on Instagram and were so impressed with his story that we wanted to share it with our readers.
We hope that JackMobb's journey into the industry can shed some light on the varied paths people take on the road to becoming an ethical hacker. Ethical hacking is a relatively new field, and as such, a lot of aspiring hackers and InfoSec enthusiasts are unsure what a typical career path looks like.
The truth is, the people in our industry have much more in common in terms of their passions and skills, then they do in experience and qualifications. We hope by examining the journies hackers take, we can celebrate those in the industry and also encourage the next wave of hackers to join our ranks!
Let's take a look at JackMobb's story.
How did you become interested in ethical hacking?
I've been into computers for a very long time. My mom purchased my first Packard Bell PC around the age of 12 or so. Right off, I was intrigued by all the different tasks I could do with a computer. The time period was around the time of the 1995-1996 era of computing.
I played various sports all my life, but Soccer was my favorite... Computers and Soccer were some of my favorite pastimes growing up. I wasn't a traditional geek per se. I wasn't the stereotypical white kid with braces, zits, shy personality, introverted, etc. In fact, I was the opposite. I had a sense of popularity and style. Most people didn't link me to computers until I was in my adult years. They always say I didn't fit the stereotype.
The movie Hackers was released around that time. That movie sparked something in me, even if I didn't realize it at the time. I remember hanging in private chat rooms as a teenager on AOL (America Online) with other kids like myself. Most of them were into programming and hacking. I learned a lot at 13-14 years old just being in the atmosphere. Back then as kids, we used to do password cracking against AOL and create Dell-Tree's (malware). We just thought it was cool trying to emulate our favorite Hackers from the movie Hackers!
Hackers really laid out the culture as far as the lingo and style for Hackers. The movie gave other computer experts a sense of direction in how far the world of computing could actually go. Although the movie was Fiction, it categorized all the elements of what security professionals encounter and use to this day.
Things like social engineering, phishing, viruses, and hacker swag... Little did we know we were grooming ourselves for major careers as Security Professionals 10-20 years later.
I began to learn networking at age 15. My friends and I loved to play Quake against each other, so we began having LAN (Local Area Network) parties. This is where people bring their entire computer over to someone's house and hook them up on a LAN. I used a Hub or Coaxial Cabling. I didn't realize then that I was learning how to create computer networks in my own home.
When I went to college, I majored in Computer Science. My first year was okay, but not exactly what I thought it would be. I didn't really realize Computer Science was all about just coding in C++. After my first year, I changed my major to Software Engineering.
Software Engineering was a scope of not just learning how to code, but also learning other disciplines, such as Computer Technician Work, Web Design, Networking (Cisco), and learning Windows Server. A few months after the switch, the course title was changed from Software Engineering to Informational Technology (IT).
It was pretty cool to be apart of these significant changes that later shaped the world now. I later graduated with a Bachelors's degree in Informational Technology, emphasizing Networking in December 2006.
What was your IT career like after college?
During my senior year of college, I created a Media/Promotion company called JackMobb Inc. A company that captured and promoted the Hip Hop Culture, which I truly love. We did Music Entertainment and Clothing Apparel. At the time my passion for computers came to a halt as I focus for 4 years building JackMobb Inc.
While my good friends from college got jobs in the real world. I started as an entrepreneur running and operating a Dotcom Business entitled (www.jackmobb.com). Over a 5 year period, things were up/down as most businesses are starting out. I started looking for other avenues of income as well. So by 2010, I started thinking about my degree I earned 4 years prior. I felt like it was a waste and I should utilize it.
The kick was that although I had tons of knowledge of being an IT-Professional, I did not have any work experience. So I had to start at the bottom by accepting a Help-Desk position at the Hilton Corp Center doing tech support over the phone.
My duties were to troubleshoot the hotel guest layer 1 and layer 2 connection issues. Hotel guests had issues connecting to the WiFi and Ethernet devices, and it was my job to help them. It taught me how to work on a corporate level within Information Technology. I did that for half a year by learning the odds and ends of troubleshooting end-users over the phone.
I later took a job as a network analyst for the public school system. At this time I had no IT-Certs. Just small minor experience and an IT Degree. This is where I really learned a lot about working with computers on large LAN networks. I was solely responsible for 7 schools that each had 200-300 computer workstations operating on a Local Area Network.
I learned how to use industry tools to Re-Image computers simultaneously and work with a team of professionals. We wore many hats. We did the Cisco networking, OS Re-Images, Malware Removal, Server Administration, and hardware break/fix.
I then became an IT contractor and worked for several different companies and sectors. After 5 years of IT-Contracting, it became a bit stagnant and I didn't see my skills growing anymore. I felt unchallenged and wanted more.
I then got an opportunity to get into Information Security. They were looking for IT-Professionals that had minor tech background, but not IT-Security experience. I applied and took the interview. They accepted me and 11 other analysts. They wanted us to get CompTIA Security+ and an HP Arch Sight SIEM (Security Information Event Management) certification being that we would be utilizing the Arc Sight SIEM for the job.
I studied those certifications for 4 months on the job and became certified. 12 months later they offered me a high paying contract as an Information Security Analyst. I worked in a full functioning SOC (Security Operations Center) for FedEx. We were the first security analyst to work there. It was a new dept that just got funded.
During my process of working in the SOC, I gathered a passion for Pentesting. My mentor gave me the tidbits on what I should do. I started studying for certifications such as the CEH and CISSP. I obtained those certifications and started my own Cyber Defense Firm entitled AP Cyber Defense, LLC (www.apcyberdefense.com).
My target audience is working with Small/Midsize businesses that need security assessments to make them safer to operate for business practices. Who would have thought that this little old black kid from Jackson, MS, password cracking AOL as a teenager could be working as a security consultant running his own legitimate cybersecurity firm? 10 Years ago I didn't even realize or imagine that these types of cool jobs even existed. I love what I do. God is Amazing!
Thanks for telling us your story. Do you have any advice for aspiring ethical hackers?
- Learn the fundamentals.
- Study for certs like CompTIA A+, the CompTIA Network + .CompTIA Sec+.
- Consider doing a degree in computer science or other IT discipline.
- Learn your way around Windows, macOS, Linux.
- Sign up to all the major job sites like Monster and Career Builders. Put yourself out there!