Researcher Spotlight: Alexander Pick
How did the full-time bug hunter and researcher, Alexander Pick, get started in the cybersecurity space? As an old school tech enthusiast, his interest was first sparked by his C64. Not interested in playing games like most kids, he started digging into BASIC from an early age.
Later, Alexander went online to find some like-minded people on IRC. Tutorials by legends like +orc and fravia taught him a lot. It’s been a long journey since then, but he’s happy he started it. Check out why below!
What does your life look like outside of hacking?
Also known as alx or api, the 39-year-old researcher, hardware hacker, and software security enthusiast lives in South Germany (near Munich) with his wife and their 2-year-old daughter.
“Besides hacking I enjoy other technical hobbies like HAM radio. Especially long-range data transmission and playing with digital modulation techniques.”
So, like a walkie-talkie? 😱 Now we’re talkin’! 🤭
How would you describe your hacking style? Are you a part-time or full-time hacker?
“Dive deep, work hard. I do research, software security, and hardware hacking full-time for a living and love it.” Hard work pays off, especially when your curiosities take you deep into learning.
What has been your biggest challenge while hacking? How did you overcome it?
“Back in the 90s I tried to learn x86 assembler. There was no internet as we know it today and all I got was a really bad book and some txt files from mailboxes. It took me 2 years to get something meaningful done. Nowadays, I can write multiple assembly languages without a problem. Times have changed.” Well, it’s true what they say, change isn’t always a bad thing.
Do you have any tips for individuals who are interested in hacking, but don’t know where to start? (Asking for a friend)
“Just start with something you are interested in. Look at it, take it apart, break it, and put it back together. Hacking is just creative use of tech, paired with curiosity, and a lot of trial and error. Sure, you will fail at some point, but the trick is to keep going, believe in yourself. Try to make things work the way you want, and you will find a way. Don’t aim for money or fame, that shouldn’t drive you. The real reward is the feeling you get, once you accomplished something that technically shouldn’t work. Beat the system, you can do it!”
We all start somewhere, including Alexander. No matter how many times you get stuck, keep going until you find the solution.
What’s an important lesson that you wish you learned early on in your hacking career?
“Quick wins are not substantial, go all-in if possible.” Like he said before, DEEP dive!
What do you do when you start getting burnt out? How do you take care of yourself and your mental health?
“Spending time with the family is very important to me. If possible, we make short trips to the Alps or other nice places around. Traveling to the ocean is also on my list at least once a year.” Allowing yourself to take breaks is important for success, especially when you’re surrounding yourself with family.
I think we’re all wondering… where do you see your journey going from here?
“Understand this obscure architecture I am currently studying.” Please let us know when you do!
Who is your hero? (hacking and/or life)
“Konrad Zuse, for inventing the modern computer. He really gets too little attention for his amazing work.”
What is your favorite hacker movie?
“I like GoldenEye if we can call it a hacker movie.” Yes, yes we can. And, you Alx, are INVINCIBLE! Thank you for sharing your journey through the infosec world. We’re inspired by your tenacity and curiosity to keep learning and growing as a researcher!