An InfoSec Life | A Conversation with Alissa Valentina Knight

A Conversation with Alissa Valentina Knight .jpeg

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By Marco Ciappelli and Sean Martin

"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...."

I cannot think of a better way to start this intro chronicle to today's Episode. While it will become clear why this is the case as you listen to it, you will probably come to envision a movie made from this story. I sure saw one in my head while I was following along as Alissa was telling us about her many adventures.

The truth might be that I have quite an over sensitive imagination—nothing new there—but I really couldn't resist the impulse of pausing her long enough so I could grab a bucket of popcorn. I know it wasn't just me because Sean was listening quietly for a long time. If you know us, as you should by now, you are likely aware that for he and I, sitting quietly in the background is not an easy thing to do.

So, let me try to remember: it starts like many with the passion for computers; Alissa built a few to play video games and to hack them; she hacked the government at age 17; got arrested on campus; got to work for the US intelligence in cyber-warfare; she started a couple of successful start-ups; she is an avid car hacker, IoT hacker, penetration tester, investigator, and analyst; she is a CEO, leader, and advisor; she is a content creator, book author, and speaker___ let me take a deep breath here. I am already tired just by writing all this—I cannot even imagine doing them all.

There is even a part of the story when she takes a break from cybersecurity to join a private military company and starts doing defense contracting, swapping the keyboard for an AR15.

Let me tell you, Alissa Valentina Knight sure doesn't like to get bored. And she is also in denial about her hacking past, present, and future as she said to us that she considers herself a recovering hacker. Naturally, I had to step on the table and called her out on that: as we all know "once a hacker, always a hacker" it is a mindset, not a hobby, Alissa! Come on! You know it better than me and looking at what you do now, it seems like you are not even trying! 😬

It was an entertaining conversation. We had a great time, and it sure felt like we were meeting a good friend and spending a pleasant evening listening to her stories while sitting around a campfire 🌲⛺️🔥🌲🌲.

Of course, we also spoke about business and cybersecurity's past, present, and future, what keeps her up at night, what motivates her to be still involved in this community after so many adventures, and what are the new technology challenges that she foresees in the future of our society.

We are so glad we meet her in Las Vegas, and we look forward to many more stories told by by her, to us and our audience.

We hope you all enjoy this story as much as we did—even just half would be more than fulfilling. Trust me—half would still be a lot!

Cheers!