This month we reached out (by email) to Shannon Morse, a leading technical expert in consumer technology, internet security and just about anything technical you can imagine. Check out her website and don’t forget to go over to Hak5 for information security videos, how-tos and a whole lot more.
Steve-. How long have you been in technology and what got you interested in pursuing tech as a career?
Shannon -I started becoming interested in technology as a hobby when I was a small child. My father would take me to local computer shops and he would let me watch him build computers and install software. In my early teenage years, my dad allowed me to build my first personal computer with his help, which really got me interested in learning more about the internals of PC technology and understanding it as a whole. As I grew older, I developed other interests such as working in theater as an actor and working in the service industry, but I always had an inclination towards technology. When I went to college I focused on another passion of mine – running a hospitality or restaurant business – so it wasn’t until I met the Hak5 crew in 2006 or 2007 that I really saw the ability to mold not only my love for theater and entertaining but also my love for technology into a real life job, and this job didn’t exist when I started college several years prior. I’ve been with Hak5 for almost a decade, and over that course of time I’ve also worked with many other podcast networks such as Discovery Digital Networks (an online subset of the Discovery Channel company), TWiT, and Sony. I’m grateful that I’m able to do what I do now as an online media presenter as it gives me the chance to continually learn and develop my own education.
Steve– You are very proficient and an expert on nearly all operating systems. What is your favorite OS and why?
Shannon-First off, thank you for saying that! I’ve worked hard not to monopolize myself into one operating system or mobile OS, because I think it’s important to understand them all. My current favorite desktop operating system is Linux because of it’s wide use in smaller devices and availability. I am currently using Ubuntu, but am proficient with Kali, Mint, and some other Linux distros. I find it fascinating that Linux OS’s are used to operate important infrastructure as well as run tiny Raspberry Pi-like PC’s for home use. I love a Linux distro’s ability to be customized to a users preference but still be user friendly as well, while still being free to run. For mobile, I prefer Android. I enjoy the flexibility of Android OS and it’s usefulness for OTG testing (such as the ability to use it with an external radio adapter for software defined radio).
Steve– With security being a ‘hot’ topic in today’s world, what applications and skills do you see as being needed for IT personnel with medium and large companies?
Shannon-Security should always be a hot topic, not just a fad that shows up because it hits a few news articles online. I feel that security should be a leading focus of any business that works with users on a day-to-day basis, specially when user data is a part of that business entity. I think that it’s important for IT personnel to get proper training in logical security and privacy when first joining a company because a human being is the first and most often point of failure when it comes to breaches in a network. Having an understanding of networking, simple reconnaissance and ability to recognize attack vectors would be extremely useful as they would be the first people in a company to notice something and report it to an Information Security professional. Specific tools an IT professional would use would vary depending on their company, but I’ve found some such as Wireshark, Netcat, NMap, and the WiFi Pineapple (a Hak5 branded device) would be crucial, and surprisingly simple to use even for newcomers.
Steve– What do you recommend for girls/women in tech to stay ahead of the curve and on-track for a technical career?
Shannon -First and foremost would be to not let yourself be singled out in the work force as “the woman”, as if that is your only bargaining chip. Being a woman in a technical field is definitely tough, because we are often judged on things that do not actually matter for the job (like our makeup, hair, intonations of voice, etc). For the first five years or so with Hak5, I did not speak up for myself very much when being criticized for things that didn’t necessarily matter. But as I’ve become more confident in my own job as an influencer in the infosec community and as someone who believes everyone should be treated fairly, I’ve learned that a part of that job is speaking out against discrimination and being a voice of reason when another voice may not be heard. Bringing ideas to meetings and showing that you have a passion for your job is very important when trying to stay ahead. For anyone, ongoing education in the ever-changing market should be seriously considered.