August 25, 2022
by Hacker Valley Studio
John Hammond, Senior Security Researcher at Huntress Labs and self-described cybersecurity education enthusiast, joins us as we continue our discussion of red team legends. With a focus on content creation this week, John discusses his success with his YouTube channel, his passion for showcasing authentic and accessible educational materials online, and his advice for creating content safely and spreading awareness with not only a red team or blue team mindset, but with a purple team perspective.
[01:37] Understanding the impact of content creators in the cybersecurity community, especially when it comes to YouTube educational content
[06:58] Becoming a successful YouTube creator through consistently posting hacking content and ignoring the stereotype of “overnight success”
[13:28] Combining his role as a cybersecurity educator with his security research at Huntress to explore exploits and have real life experience with what he teaches
[16:47] Focusing on the blue side of the house as someone with red team experience, and understanding how to use a tool like PlexTrac to create a collaborative purple team
[21:13] Being mindful of the impact he has through sharing this knowledge and understanding the risk of cybersecurity educational materials falling into “the wrong hands”
Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and PlexTrac for bringing this season of HVR to life!The Axonius solution correlates asset data from existing solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory, uncover gaps, and automate action — giving IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity. Learn more at axonius.com/hackervalley
PlexTrac is pleased to offer an exclusive Red Team Content Bundle for Hacker Valley listeners. This bundle contains both our "Writing a Killer Penetration Test Report" and "Effective Purple Teaming" white papers in ONE awesome package. Head to PlexTrac.com/HackerValley to learn more about the platform and get your copy today!
What is your origin story for wanting to educate other hackers?
Like many of us, John started his journey Googling how to become a hacker. As he gained more knowledge about the specific skills involved in hacking, John never left the internet behind, always seeking out videos and articles explaining new and emerging content. Inspired by those who created that content in the first place, he started his own YouTube channel, simply titled John Hammond, as has spent years cultivating a consistent hacker audience.
“Along the way, creating content and helping educate others through YouTube is really my main stage platform and has been just a passion project, a labor of love, and something fun along the way.”
What feelings do you get looking back on the YouTube content you’ve created so far?
John prioritizes clarity, transparency, and honesty in what he does, and he’s not afraid to show some humbleness, too. Overall, John is thankful for his YouTube success and the impact it had on the cybersecurity community. No matter what he’s showing in his videos, he prefers to keep things honest, to show where he’s made mistakes, and to accept criticism and advice from other hackers and offensive cybersecurity professionals that see his work.
“I'm showcasing just my computer screen, maybe you get a little face cam and a circle on the bottom right, but it's like you're looking over my shoulder. You're seeing me showcase something raw, live, genuine, and authentic…It’s not all sexy, there’s a lot of failure in hacking.”
Have you ever considered focusing on the blue team or the defensive side of cybersecurity?
The majority of John's YouTube content and the work he does in his role at Huntress Labs heavily involves the red team and offensive side of cyber. However, John is a huge advocate for the blue team and the red team collaborating and communicating better. Through making more concepts in cybersecurity accessible through educational content like John’s own videos, he hopes we can continue to bridge the gap and achieve that perfectly mixed purple team.
“We're all playing in concert. As one team sharpens their skills in the red team pen test, then it's up to the blue team to figure that out. What did they do? How can we better detect it? How can we stop and mitigate that security threat?”
What advice do you have for red team content creators that want to share content and spread awareness safely?
With the impact that he’s had and the content he’s put out onto the internet, John is no stranger to seeing the negative side of cybersecurity knowledge being more accessible than ever before.
Still, he wants to make sure content creators understand the value of transparency and honesty in what they do. Instead of fearing what could be, cultivate a community around making this level of knowledge and security available to everyone.
“Share, be transparent, be forthcoming. I know there are a lot of conversations about gatekeeping in cybersecurity, but there shouldn't be that. I understand there's grit and determination and hard work to do all the things that you're doing, but be friendly and be transparent and honest.”
Continue the conversation by joining our Discord.
In this episode of the podcast, Maril Vernon joins Ron and Chris and discusses the importance of breaking down silos between cyber teams and inspiring individuals to drive their own careers in cybersecurity. Maril has been a key player in promoting t...
In this episode of Hacker Valley Studio, Rob Wood, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at CMS, discusses the challenges of data silos within organizations. Rob explains that security teams often operate in silos, with different departments focu...
Taylor Lehmann, Director of Office of the CISO at Google Cloud, has made it his mission to make healthcare and life sciences more secure and strategic for everyone. Joining our security podcast this week, Taylor talks about how security and strategy ...
Maxime “Max” Lamothe-Brassard, Founder of LimaCharlie, brings a tech-focused community perspective and a history of working at Google to the Hacker Valley security podcast this week. Inspired by the internal motivation to empower others and build wha...
Brian Haugli, Founder and CEO of SideChannel, brings his CISO expertise to the security podcast this week for a discussion about strategy and leadership in cybersecurity. Working alongside CISOs and fractional VCISOs, Brian has seen his share of lead...
Allison Minutillo, President of Rebel Interactive Group and Host of the Rebel Leadership podcast, joins the Hacker Valley team this week to talk about her journey from individual contributor to company leader. With a leader’s mind and a rebel’s heart...
Cody Wass, VP of Services at NetSPI, brings his near-decade of experience to the pod to talk about longevity, development, and leadership. It’s no secret that cybersecurity is in need of people. Cody’s journey from intern to VP at NetSPI has shown hi...
Brad Liggett, CTI Intel Engineer Manager at Cybersixgill, puts on his improv hat and joins the pod ready for anything. After COVID pressed pause on daily life, Brad kept himself sane and gained some new skills by returning to his improv roots (a hobb...
Richard Rushing, CISO at Motorola Mobility, brings his decades of experience to the show this week to talk about leadership, communication, and perhaps most importantly of all: prioritization. After joining Motorola through a startup acquisition, Ric...
Kenneth Ellington, the Senior Cybersecurity Consultant at EY and Founder of the Ellington Cyber Academy, achieves his goal of being on the Hacker Valley Studio this week. From working at Publix in college to becoming an online course instructor, Kenn...