This season of Hacker Valley Red wraps up with another interview of an incredible offensive cybersecurity legend. Known first and foremost for his work founding Metasploit and his recent work co-founding Rumble, HD Moore joins the show this week to hear about his journey from spiteful hacker to successful founder. HD walks through the history of Metasploit, the motivation behind their coding decisions, his opinions on open source software, and the excitement of exploration and discovery.
[04:57] Catching up with HD’s career from his hacking exploits in the ‘90s through his founding of Metasploit to his recent activities with Rumble
[11:41] Getting personal with the feelings and takeaways from a project as successful and impactful on the cyber industry as Metasploit
[18:52] Explaining HD’s personal philosophies around accessible education and the risk of sharing vulnerable information publicly
[25:39] Diving deep into the technical stories of HD’s path of discovery and exploration during his time at Metasploit
[31:14] Giving advice for future founders and hackers looking to make a legendary impact on the cybersecurity community
Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and PlexTrac for bringing this season of HVR to life!
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What were some of the trials, tribulations, and successes of Metasploit?
Although Metasploit has had a lasting impact on the cyber world, HD Moore is not afraid to admit that part of Metasploit existed out of spite for critics, employers, and gatekeepers in the cybersecurity industry. In terms of trials and tribulations, HD saw a great deal of criticism come from his peers and from professionals ahead of him in the industry, often displaying rudeness towards the quality of the exploits and Metasploit’s audience of young hackers. Later, HD says that a surprising and amusing side effect of his success with the project was watching employers and peers go from criticizing to lifting up his work with Metasploit and attributing success of many hacking professionals to its creation.
“When we started the Metasploit project, we really wanted to open up to everybody. We wanted to make sure that, even if you barely knew how to program, you can still contribute something to Metasploit. So, we did our best to make it really easy for folks to get in touch with us, to submit code.”
Where does your philosophy land today on giving information freely?
HD has heard the same opinions many professionals that teach and give information freely have heard: “You’re making it easier for people to use this information the wrong way.” Instead of considering the worst possible outcomes of making hacking accessible, HD chooses to acknowledge the importance of accessible education and publicly provided information. According to HD, if someone is creating and teaching content to the next generation of red teamers, that content is theirs to use. Whether they’re a physical pen tester teaching lock picking or a hacker disclosing a vulnerability, what they choose to share with others has to be based on personal moral code and what others do with that information is up to them.
“It comes down to: You do the work, you own the result. If you're teaching people how to do stuff, great, they can do what they want. You can decide to do that, you can decide not to do that, but it's your decision to spend your time training people or not training them.”
Is it possible to be a CEO, or a co-founder, and stay technical?
The downside of success in the cybersecurity industry is often stereotyped as losing the opportunity to be a hands-on hacker. However, for HD, his success has allowed him to do the exact opposite and instead prioritize his time to be technical. HD believes strongly in the ability to make this happen through proper delegation of duties, incorporating new leaders and managers in your company or project, and acknowledging when you may need the help to bring what you’re working on to the next level. HD is proud of his success with Metasploit and Rumble, and is happy that he was able to hand off certain duties to other professionals that he knew would do better if they had a chance in the founder’s shoes.
“Don't let the growth of your company change what you enjoy about your work. That's really the big thing there, and there's lots of ways you can get there. You can hire folks to help out, you can promote your co-founder to CEO. You can bring on program managers or project managers to help with all the day to day stuff."
What advice do you have for people looking to follow a similar cyber career path?
Content is the name of the game, especially when you’re looking to get more eyes on what you do. HD is the first to admit that putting himself out there in a blog post, on a podcast, or at a stage show is not always a walk in the park, taking him out of his comfort zone and often away from the tech that he spends his time on. However, publicly displaying himself and his work has brought attention to Rumble and Metasploit, and HD knows he would not have achieved this level of success without putting his content out into the world, hearing feedback from his peers, and even receiving his fair share of criticism from industry professionals.
“Not all of it is the most fun thing to do all the time, but it is crucially important, not just for growing yourself and getting out there and getting feedback from your peers, but for learning because you learn so much from the feedback you get from that effort.”
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