July 20, 2021

Episode 156 - Detection as Code with Nick Hakmiller

by Hacker Valley Studio

Show Notes

In this episode, we speak to a Detection and Response expert! Our guest is Nick Hakmiller, Senior Engineering Manager at Panther Labs.

Nick was first exposed to technology in High School where he took an introduction to Visual Basic programming course. When learning about multi-threaded applications Nick became curious and began exploring how to open too many threads to crash a computer. Throughout Nick’s career he’s maintained an interest and focus on attack techniques and building defensive security programs.

On occasions, security controls may fail to catch an attacker. A detection is logic that is applied to logs, security controls, and alerts to notify teams and automated processes. Nick describes Python as an exceptional programming language to apply detections and create detections as code.

Nick describes many aspects of security as an engineering problem. As organizations transform and adopt new technologies, security issues arise and evolve. Nick describes that the team’s that are most successful with applying detection as code have chosen to view security as a function that engineering should participate in and help solve.

As an organization’s security program matures, Nick mentions that the most impactful detections will likely be written and created by someone within the organization. For instance, creating a detection that defines which users should have access to sensitive data is likely to be created by a member of the organization with knowledge of team structure.

Towards the end of the episode, Nick shares his wisdom to any practitioner that wants to step into the role of creating detections and providing impact while doing so.


Key Takeaways

0:00 - Welcome Back to the Hacker Valley Studio Podcast!

2:29 - Nick Hakmiller, Senior Engineering Manager at Panther Labs

4:20 - How Nick became interested in technology

6:00 - What is a detection?

7:25 - How detection as code applies to cybersecurity and software engineering

10:11 - Prerequisites to consider before applying detection as code

12:27 - Thinking beyond out of the box solutions and applying detections

15:54 - Categories of detections and which are most impactful

23:45 - Reducing alerts by engineering efforts

27:40 - Is it possible to automate everything for security?

32:56 - Advice on getting started with creating detections


Keep in touch with Nick Hakmiller on LinkedIn

Reach out to Nick on Panther’s Community Slack

Stay up to date with Nick’s work by viewing Panther Analysis

Learn more about Panther Labs