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John's InfoSec Ramblings

The thoughts of a man working his way through a career in Information Security.

John Svazic

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Happy New Year 2020

Happy New Year Everyone!

Happy 2020 everyone! May the best of your past be the worst of your future. It’s been a while, and I apologize for that. I actually have another write-up that should be coming shortly. I’ve actually finished this machine months ago, but translating my notes to a walk-through is a tedious process. Regardless, there will be another post coming shortly.

I hope the new year brings you much joy and a drive to do better. That’s what is in store for myself to be honest. For those who aren’t aware of what’s been happening for me in 2019, allow me to provide you a recap:

The Podcast

For those who were not aware, I am the host of the Purple Squad Security podcast! I’ve been podcasting for nearly 3 years now (I stared with another one called Head In The Cloud), and it’s been great. I’ve slowed down a bit in 2019, and I only released 20 episodes. Lots of amazing guests, and I expect that trend to continue into 2020.

The Blog

I started this very blog in 2019. I was mainly looking for an outlet to share thoughts that wouldn’t fit in a Twitter thread or a Mastodon toot, so I started this blog. I then decided I should give myself a challenge to make sure I have regular content to post, and thus the VulnHub Challenge was born. I’m sad to say that I failed at keeping the pace I was hoping for, even though I had finished half the challenge around the 3rd machine. I just haven’t had the time to finish the write-up yet.

The Conference

Back in February, 2019 a few friends approached me to ask for my help with a tabletop that they wanted to run as part of a workshop for the True North conference in June 2019. Seems they wanted to use it to launch a new conference of their own called Cyber City. Given that I was thinking of starting up a BSides Waterloo, this was an easier way in, so I joined the committee and quickly became the “task master”/project manager for the conference.

We launched the very first Cyber City conference on October 1, 2019. Selling out with 200 attendees was amazing. We really outdid ourselves, and the planning for 2020 has already begun. Bigger plans, lessons learned, and eyes set on the prize, we’re all hopeful for 2020 being even better, but now we’re not fooling ourselves on the level of effort it will take. You can read more about the 2019 conference here.


In January 2019 I actually started teaching at my local college, lecturing on Computer Security. My first term was shared with another professor, but the topics were the same. The next two terms were all my own, so I moulded my class around an introduction to computer security along with a very basic penetration testing curriculum.

I’m back at it for 2020, teaching another term from January to April. I’ll see if I can switch classes, since 3 straight terms of the same course is a bit mind numbing. This is fun, but it’s just a part-time gig for 4 hours per week, plus marking, etc.


In mid-November, 2019 I incorporated a new business: EliteSec Information Security Consultants, Inc.. I have wanted to start my own business for at least 20 years, but I never thought I was ready. The perfectionist in me was also the coward, but I’ve decided that not doing anything is the equivalent of failing, so I figured I may as well try just to say that I did it. As such, I’ve spun up the website, done some light advertising, setup Twitter and Facebook accounts for the company and have some plans to get started.

I do have my first gig starting next week, and I have some leads on a few others. Regardless, there’s more to do and I know I’m just getting started. Here’s to hoping that 2020 will be a bumper year for this new venture.

My Day Job

Even though I’ve started EliteSec, I haven’t quit my day job yet. I don’t have enough revenue to justify leaving my role, and I want to take it slow while I have a safety net under me. My workplace is amazing, from my boss to my co-workers, to my staff. I will continue to work with them until it’s time to leave, at which point I’ll likely just ask that they hire me on a contract basis to help polish some things as time goes on. :-)

Woah! Are you human?!

That’s a great question. Last time I checked I am, but holy hell am I busy. So as you can see, there’s a reason I haven’t been posting very much. I was going to write this article to say that I’m essentially halting this blog, but that’s not exactly true. This will be a place to muse on my thoughts and such about the industry, but it won’t be my main focus anymore. I do have a blog over at EliteSec where I do plan on posting more regularly, but anything that doesn’t quite fit there will likely be covered here. I haven’t given up on the VulnHub challenge either, but it will just take a bit longer than I expected.

You can still expect to hear podcast episodes every 2 weeks, give or take based on schedule, and I’ll try to balance everything else as best I can. Having said that, I can’t run myself into the ground either. We’ll see how the next few months go to determine what else may need to take a bit of a pause, but I’ll see how that goes.

Sorry for the rambling-nature of this one, I’m literally just dumping my thoughts through my keyboard right now. Take care, and I hope you all have a spectacular 2020!

– John

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Hi. I'm John, and I'm an Information Security Generalist.