International Women’s Day is not only a day for acknowledging and honoring women, but also a day to support increased equality. As women continue to establish a stronger presence in the cybersecurity industry, we feel honored to feature a red teamer, bug bounty hunter, and powerful female in this month’s researcher spotlight.

Learn all about Bl3ep, also known as Jo, a human who finds things, breaks things, and lies for fun and profit.

How did you get into the Cybersecurity space?

“I got into the field through the less-interesting tertiary education route where I did degrees in Information Security and Criminology.”

There are numerous paths that can lead to a career in cybersecurity and hacking, and we’re pleased you’ve chosen this one.

What first sparked your interest in hacking?

“Mid-degree, mid-quarter-life crisis, and came across a recording of a DEFCON Las Vegas talk on YouTube. Of course, it’s never just one video. Next thing I know I’m watching talks about weaponising your cat, radio hacking, and Barnaby Jack “jackpotting” an ATM. Not only did it sound fun, but it also sounded like a potential career path that I could stay interested in for the next couple of decades. As YouTube rabbit holes go, this has probably been the most rewarding.”

We know the YouTube rabbit hole all too well. 😂

Are there any women in the cybersecurity field who have influenced you?

“For sure, I’m an amalgamation of all the women that I think are cool. I find other people’s enthusiasm really motivating and energizing, so whenever someone nerds out about something they’re clearly passionate about, I’m starstruck. Another group of women I find really inspiring are those who use their skills, talents, and leadership to spark change. Some of the many many people I think are pretty cool are: Zemmiph0bia, momowowo, pamoshea, and pink_tangent.”

We admire the women who have brought about change, especially in the technology field.

Are there any women in the space who have helped you on your hacking journey?

“There’s been so many women who have helped me both directly (through advice or teaching) or indirectly by running community events and women-oriented events.”

Round of applause for them and you! 👏

How long have you been hunting?

“I started hunting in university as a way to practice and earn some extra cash and have been hunting on and off since then.”

How have bug bounties impacted your life?

“Bug bounties help me save some extra money for the future. I didn’t grow up in the best financial situation, so being able to support myself financially means a lot to me.”

Are you a part-time or full-time hacker? How much time do you spend hacking each week?

“I’m a full-time red teamer and hunt on the side. It depends! Sometimes not at all, other times an unhealthy amount.”

With hunting, it can be hard to start or stop. ☝️

What’s the best part about being a female hacker?

“The best part about being a hacker is constantly challenging yourself and learning everyday. As with pretty much everything, it’s not for everyone, but amazing for those who enjoy it. Diversity in any field is essential, and that includes cybersecurity. Being a woman allows me to bring diverse viewpoints, skills and inspires more women to pursue careers in cybersecurity.”

What has been your biggest challenge while hacking? How did you overcome it?

“My biggest challenge is staying consistent and I’m still not perfect with it. I’m trying to overcome it by making hacking a part of a disciplined routine rather than something I do when motivation strikes.”

Excellent advice. Consistency is key to improving your skills!

Do you have any favorite tools or resources to learn?

“I have three favourite types of resources:

Virtual Labs: Virtual labs provide a safe environment for learners to practice their hacking skills without fear of causing damage. i.e. PentesterLab, Hack the Box, and TryHackMe.

Online Courses: Online courses if you do well with a structured learning environment. i.e. Udemy, Code Academy.

Capture the Flag (CTF) Challenges are a good way to practice if competition motivates you. i.e. CTF365, VulnHub, and Hacker101.”

Do you have any advice for young women who might want to start learning about bug bounties?

“Stop thinking about doing it and start. Just do it! Also, reach out to like-minded people in community groups for help and guidance. If bug hunting is your largest stream of income, put aside a good chunk of money from each payout to stop yourself from over-stressing when you hit a dry spell.”

How do you avoid burnout? How do you take care of yourself and your mental health?

“Oh jeeze, I’m still trying to figure this out but this is what I’m trying to make a consistent conscious effort of doing:

Setting boundaries
Specifically by setting clear boundaries between work and personal life. Prioritize rest, relaxation, and personal time to recharge your batteries.

Take breaks
Take frequent breaks throughout the day to rest, recharge, and refocus. Regular breaks can improve productivity and reduce stress levels.

Talk about your feelings
Reach out to friends, family, or a mental health professional for support when you need it. It’s essential to have a support system in place to help manage stress and maintain mental well-being. Therapy is for everyone.”

Thank you for sharing. Mental health is so important and having a support system is essential.

Where do you see your journey going from here? What are some goals you have for this year?

“I intend to keep doing what I’m doing now. Stay learning, getting better at the craft. My goal for this year is to complete some certifications I’ve been putting off.”

One step at a time, you got this. 💪

Why do you hunt with Bugcrowd?

“I hunt with Bugcrowd because Bugcrowd has a range of programs with scopes that interest me.”

Tell us what you do for a living or your career aspirations.

“I’m a red teamer. I’m still trying to figure out my career aspirations at the moment.”

What does your life look like outside of hacking?

“I have too many hobbies and not enough time. I’m an avid gardener, painter, and locksport enthusiast but recently I’ve also been getting into pole dancing and making my own charcuterie.”

Who is your hero?

“Elle Woods from Legally Blonde.”

‘You can do it The Washington Way, but I’m going to do it The Elle Woods Way.’

Tell us a fun fact about yourself!

“I’ve never seen the Star Wars original trilogy.”

Such an honor learning about your journey, Bl3ep! Show your support for International Women’s Day with #IWD2023 and #EmbraceEquality on social. We’re off to watch Star Wars and Legally Blonde. 👋

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