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Passion for Hacking: Learning, Teaching, and Relentless Curiosity

Interview with Sophus Siegenthaler, Managing Partner & IT Security Engineer at cyllective AG

Sophus Siegenthaler's journey in the realm of cybersecurity is a testament to following one's passion and the power of relentless self-learning. With over two decades in the industry, he has witnessed its evolution from the early days of IT to the complex cybersecurity landscape of today. Beyond his personal endeavours, Sophus is keen on sharing his wealth of knowledge with the next generation. At GOHack23, Sophus will be leading a Hacking 101 session and CTF challenge, offering participants a unique opportunity to dive into the world of bug bounty hunting.


Sophus, how did you get started in cybersecurity?

About 15-20 years ago, in my early 20s, I became interested in IT out of sheer curiosity. I was undertaking my IT apprenticeship at that time. My passion for self-learning was so intense that I ended up missing my final exams, and had to redo the last year of my studies. In a way, that setback was a blessing in disguise, as it gave me time to dive deeper into hacking and further my skills.

After my apprenticeship, I took on a role as an IT systems administrator and consultant engineer for Sun Solaris-based systems for bigger companies. While security wasn't the prime focus back then, I kept coming up against security elements in my role. I saw the potential for cybersecurity early on, and knew it was a topic I had to pursue more extensively.

I founded my company, cyllective, and did professional training so that I could take on our first apprentice, Dave, who has now been with us for over eight years. Dave is a constant reminder of the importance of nurturing talent and the long-term value they can bring.

By supporting GOHack23, we aim to facilitate continuous learning and introduce more individuals to the concepts of Capture the Flag and bug bounties.
Sophus Siegenthaler, Managing Partner & IT Security Engineer at cyllective

cyllective is an education partner of GOHack23. What motivated you to support this cyber security event?

From my personal journey, I understand the significance of hands-on education and the value of experimenting in the realm of cybersecurity. This event is a great opportunity for us. We're eager to meet a diverse group of people, whether they're seasoned IT security professionals or newcomers curious about the sector. By supporting GOHack23, we aim to facilitate continuous learning and introduce more individuals to the concepts of Capture the Flag (CTF) and bug bounties. While CTF is a good entry point, bug bounties allow participants to apply their more advanced skills in real-world scenarios. Plus, it's always fun to spend time with like-minded enthusiasts, discuss technologies, and share hacks. We're excited to be part of GOHack23!

We consciously set the entry price low so that everyone, regardless of background or financial means, can participate. You suggested CHF 13.37. Is there a particular significance to this number?

Indeed there is! The price CHF 13.37 references 'leet speak', where '1337' stands for 'LEET', a version of the word 'elite'. Leet speak is a type of symbolic writing, especially popular in online communities. "It began as a type of code that computer enthusiasts and hackers used in the early days of the internet to identify themselves and stand out from the crowd. Over time, it evolved into its own culture within the tech and hacker community, where certain words and phrases are replaced by numbers and symbols.

Tell me about the Capture the Flag challenge. Can anyone participate? No prior hacking experience necessary?

The Capture the Flag (CTF) challenge is designed to be inclusive and welcoming to participants of all skill levels. Even if you're new to hacking or have no prior experience, you're encouraged to participate. In the Hacking 101 session, I'll be sharing some foundational skills and basics to get everyone started. This session aims to equip participants with the knowledge they need to tackle the CTF challenge. The beauty of the CTF is that it allows everyone to apply what they've learned in a real-world setting, testing their skills and learning in the process. And to make things even more exciting, we have prizes lined up for the winners! So, whether you're a seasoned hacker or just someone curious about the world of cybersecurity, come and join the challenge!

Dive in, stay curious, hang out with others in the scene, and always enjoy what you're doing. See you at GOHack23!
Managing Partner & IT Security Engineer at cyllective

What advice would you give to someone interested in a career in cybersecurity?

Today, we've got so much information right at our fingertips. Think about it: YouTube alone has more content being uploaded per minute than traditional TV shows produced up to this point in time. No matter what you're into – from goldsmithing to pentesting to bug bounty and other areas of cybersecurity – there's a ton of information out there to help you learn. And it's not just videos. There are also in-depth studies on vulnerabilities on platforms like Twitch and tools like chatGPT, which is like a “YouTube on steroids”. With the right promps, it can provide everyting from theory to intricate technical details.

If you've got some free time and a good internet connection, there's nothing stopping you from diving deep into cybersecurity. Stick with it, keep asking questions, and make sure you're having fun. That's the key. If it stops being fun, it's hard to keep going.

And even though there's a lot you can learn on your own, it's really important to connect with other people who share the same interests. That's why events like GOHack, Hackbar and 'Beer on Tuesdays' are great. You can learn from others, share what you know, and just hang out with cool people. My last piece of advice? Dive in, stay curious, hang out with others in the scene, and always enjoy what you're doing. See you at GOHack23!

Discover what Ethical Hacking and Bug Bounty are all about. Hear about current cybersecurity topics from compelling speakers. Meet Sophus and other cybersecurity experts at GOHack23.

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