Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Hiring pentesters... (1/?)

Hiring the right people is becoming harder and harder. I decided to share some tips and feedback based on few years of reading resumes and interviewing people.

I don't think you can really have an equation to rate the right person, I think it's more like a list of things I like or dislike in a resume.

In my opinion, the best hiring process follows the following steps (for the technical side of it):
  • Review resume.
  • Technical interview.
  • Hands-on interview.
  • Drinks.
In this first post, I'm going to provide more details on how I review a resume and what affect my decision.

  • Resume looks ugly: -1
  • Obvious spelling mistakes in the resume: -3 (native speakers), -1 (others)
  • Resume sent by a recruiter: +/- 5, some recruiters can take a resume and make it looks terrible or can make it look better...
  • Buzzwords in the resume: -3
  • Hotmail address: -3 ("Excuse me, are you from the past?")
  • Own domain name: +2, with own SMTP server: +3
  • Number of occurrence of the word "hack" in the resume: -1 per occurrence
  • No internet presence: +/-10, can indicate the best and the worst

  • Developer formation: +2 someone who can write code will often be more useful than someone who can't
  • Learn different things at school: +3, with special points for Maths, Cryptography, Data Mining, Signal processing, Electronic, ...
  • Didn't go to high school: +/-0, some really really smart people didn't spend much time at school.

Job experiences:
  • Job hopper: -5, training people takes time (especially if you're not using our exercises), you cannot afford to hire someone who is going to leave after a year (with your company's knowledge).
  • More than 7 years working for one big company/big 4 and bragging about it: -2, if someone is not happy, he should move on, and not stay at the same place for that long
  • Worked as a developer: +2, someone who can write code will often be more useful than someone that can't.
  • Web site developer: +3, a big part of our job is web-based, knowing how to develop for the web gives people a lot of knowledge needed for penetration testing (common mistakes, ability to review code, ...).

  • CEH: -2, too often I have been disappointed during technical interview by CEH. Most of them just want to hack stuff and don't learn properly how things work.
  • CISSP: -3, CISSP is in my opinion a good certification for people who want to show general knowledge in security... not really the kind of people a pentest company is after in my opinion.
  • ISO-2700*: -4, same as CISSP with even less technical knowledge
  • PCI-DSS: -2, not really technical but some really good people are certified.
  • All of these certifications together: -3
  • Special points for "Firstname Lastname CISSP": -4

IT knowledge:
  • List tool instead of Technic: -3, sqlmap" instead of "sql injection"
  • List really old security tools: -3
  • Obvious lack of security knowledge: -10, Non-sense in the resume for example
  • github profile: +5
  • github profile with projects: +5, +3 if really good code, +4 if code in different languages
  • github profile with patches for opensource projects: +5 (-3 if advisory published for silly vulnerabilities)

  • published a vulnerability in some project in version 0.1: -3, +3 if it's a full code review and they found "all" the bugs and report them prior to the disclosure.
  • published a stack-overflow in some Russian mp3 player: -3 (typical CEH profile)

  • References from someone: +10
  • Twitter account: +1, -1 if only chitchat, -3 if security circus, +2 if real information on vulnerabilities
  • Blog with interesting articles: +5
  • Play CTF: +5
  • Available on IRC: +2
  • Talk during conferences: +5, unless talk on SCADA: -3
  • Read Phrack: +5
  • Wrote in Phrack: +20 (Phrack is the *BIG* deal, writing in phrack shows both a lot of skills and the good attitude)
  • Any achievement: +3, black belt in some martial arts, won something, ...
  • Did/do some team sports: +/- 0. to be honest I don't think most good pentesters are team players, they are more like traders, sharing information/tools with people they know/like/respect or people who share with them.

I know a lot of people won't agree with this rating, mostly because it's really subjective (and part of it is a bit trollish I guess). However, most of the time it provides a good overview of a resume... Obviously, if I get a resume that matches all these points, I will be really suspicious now :p

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Why PentesterLab ?

First, you need to know where the exercises come from... I have been running a web training as part of Ruxcon for the last 2 years. For these trainings, I develop a set of exercises that people enjoyed.

Secondly, as a Ruby's developer I really enjoy the courses provided by Peepcode. However, I don't think screencasts will fit the pentest learning process. From my experience, most people need hands on experience to learn (how many times I heard: "it looks easy when you explain, but there is so many little details you need to remember"). The best way to learn is to test and reproduce. To do that you need access to the application for as long as you need without any stress, and that's why having a virtual system is the best option.

Thirdly, I don't believe in learning penetration testing with an application with thousands of bugs... It just doesn't represent real life pentesting. Most of the time, penetration testing is in the details (like the devil).

Finally, most online Security training are too expensive and we wanted to provide something students can afford.

That's why we created PentesterLab :D

Some spoilers:

  • PHP Include And Post Exploitation exercise;
  • An enterprise license with full access on a per year basis (as soon as 5 exercises are available);
  • ... a lot more to come :D

Hit me up if you have any questions, suggestions, opinions :)

Monday, 9 January 2012