During my time as Project Manager of Hacker Highschool (2012-2016) I had the opportunity to write articles for several security publications. This article, “Interactions, Trust, and Google Chrome”, appeared on January 14, 2016, and looked at the obvious and not-so-obvious trusts we give Google and interactions we allow with them.
I’m not a Google Hater; in fact I find their tools really useful in my consulting work. But I’m very cautious about sharing certain things, for instance my wifi network passwords. Check it out for a fuller discussion.
I first started talking with Pete Herzog through LinkedIn in 2010. His pocket institute, ISECOM, had produced some really interesting material, including the Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual (OSSTMM) and Hacker Highschool (HHS). Lots of his ideas were great, but wrapped in language that made them really difficult to understand. In my innocence I thought, “Hey, I can contribute by drastically improving the quality of the prose here.” Soon I was working on a lesson, and by 2012 Pete had asked me to take over as Project Manager of Hacker Highschool.
It was a fun, and hysterically busy, beginning. We charted out a whole series of lessons beyond the original 12 released in 2004, and enlisted what grew to become a cadre of contributors over 200 strong. There’s a trail of articles and updates by me, Pete and many others that chart that effort. It was a ton of fun, and I met a lot of great people, but it also consumed every bit of my free time for several years, and most important, didn’t make money.
Eventually we tried to improve the financial situation, but that’s a story for another post. (We weren’t successful.)
Hey kids, wanna get your hack on? The developers of Hacker Highschool, a free cybersecurity awareness and education project, have just issued a newly revamped version of the organization’s first lesson plan titled Being a Hacker, and will soon be reissuing updated curricula for all 23 of the course’s tutorials.
Pete described it as “open, free”, which is not to be confused with Open Source (the 2004 version was copyrighted, and version 2 was released under a Creative Commons-attribs-no-derivs “license”):
“This open, free project is a relaunch of the lessons first published in 2004. Over 60 volunteers, led by me and managed by Glenn Norman have been working months to provide a total of 23 lessons. The first of which has been released today, ‘Lesson 1, Being a Hacker’. The final lesson is on Trolling,” Herzog said.
Ah, those optimistic early days. I wish we could have made HHS a viable ongoing enterprise, but there’s no money in “open and free.” There is, however, a viable business model for shared community education about hacking, and I’m working to develop that now (2017) at School for Hackers (S4H): https://schoolforhackers.com/. I’ll have a lot more to say about S4H in coming posts, but for now I’ll just say it’s NOT about teaching teens cyber-security awareness; it’s very much for adults.
As I’ve described in an earlier entry, I first got in touch with Pete Herzog and ISECOM (http://isecom.org) in 2010 through LinkedIn because, as a professional editor, I thought I could make a contribution to the writing and layout of some of his products. Initially I thought about working on the OSSTMM (http://osstmm.org), but accepted Pete’s offer to work on lessons for Hacker Highschool (http://hackerhighschool.org). In 2012 Pete asked me to take on the job of unpaid volunteer Project Manager for the Hacker Highschool Version 2 Rewrite Project, which I accepted.
Over the next four years I managed over 10,000 emails, almost 100 contributors and over 200 supporters of the project. Some of the lessons went through as many as 50 drafts, all of which I managed and edited. I learned a tremendous lot about hacking, hackers and hacker culture, most of it positive. By 2016, however, financial pressures forced me to relinquish the role of Project Manager.
The Hacker Highschool materials are open and free to the public, released under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial, No Deriviatives, Attribution Required License, which is an extension of copyright not formally embodied in law. Formal, legal copyright, of course, is always owned by the creator of a work, unless the creator is paid, or signs away rights in a contract. This means that all materials contributed to Hacker Highschool remain the copyright property of the contributors.
After my departure, ISECOM chose to keep our contributions but remove the names of several people from the Contributors pages, including mine.