Interview of Mohit Kumar -The Hacker News Founder

Indian Servers Team interviewed Mr Mohit Kumar.

About The Hacker News can be found here:

Q — Can we know how did you start your career in cybersecurity? What made you choose this path? What inspired u to become a cybersecurity researcher?

A — Isn’t the word ‘hacking’ itself is so attractive and intense enough to make anyone easily curious what’s this all about, and I can do something cool. I heard about the topic of hacking when I was in my 11th class and explored it with madness level of passion for being here, and I am still here because learning is a never-ending journey.

Q — How did you learn cybersecurity in your college life, and how did you forward your career in this field? How I have to be a success in hacking? Can you give me guidance? What is the essential thing we have to follow to be a success in the career as the cybersecurity and ethical hacking professional?

A — After exploring a bit, I realized that cybersecurity is not a subject, but an insanely vast domain. It’s more like the next level into any IT profession.

If you’re a web developer, then you can be a web application security expert, if you are mobile app dev, only then you can pentest apps, if you are into sysadmin and networking, only then you can pentest networks and related devices.

I chose website development as my starting point, just out of curiosity to learn how I can build my own website, and that landed me in the right direction of web app testing and hacking.

In short, you can not hack or secure something you’re not aware of, and honestly, one can’t be aware of everything, so just choose a platform and master it, and then jump to the next.

Q — What is the essential quality of a cybersecurity professional?

A — They don’t skip the low-level basics and always come up with a custom solution for each problem based on the available context, instead of hitting and trying readymade ideas.

Just a small example: How can I hack someone’s Facebook password?

This question should not be answered by a good hacker without knowing who your target is, what system or the device they use, what Internet connection they rely on, what topics they’re interested in.

That’s because social engineering is still one of the greatest and best-performing weapons in cyberattacks, and you would probably never second get a second chance to trick your unsuspecting victim or take advance in his/her systems.

Q — There are a lot of resources, like textbooks and tutorials available on the Internet. Please suggest some Imp resources for a newbie, mainly(WAPT).

A — I would suggest to never rely on a single resource to learn about a topic; instead, you must make a list of minor-level topics you’re interested in and then use Google to explore 1000s of sites for each one of them, one by one in-depth. That’s because no resource has complete, updated, or correct information on a topic.

Q — How did you start off with your website? How did you get the idea of starting this website?

A — It was a very spontaneous idea that struck me after realizing the necessity of a dedicated platform to grab the latest cybersecurity updates. Unfortunately, or fortunately, when I, as a cybersecurity enthusiast, was looking for such a platform for myself almost a decade ago, there was not a single option to follow. So that’s where I thought of starting one.

Q — What are the challenges did you face at the initial point? As we all know, there will be few difficulties how did you overcome them, and what was your motivation to cross them?

A — In my early days of cybersecurity, I was under no pressure of learning anything of this domain for making a career out of, as I was an electronics and communication student in college and second, I was, and still, doing it for my passion.

When I started THN during the 3rd year of my college, I had no competition, I had no business aim, and all I had is the idea, a simple idea to run a cybersecurity news platform where infosec beginners could learn what’s new happening in the domain and general people could learn what the latest threats out there are.

I definitely had no idea of journalism at that point or had any reference on how to be a cybersecurity journalist or stats on what information people want to read, but I just started with what I would have liked to read about.

Turned out, many of them had a similar taste, and it eventually filled a gap in the community because of which researchers and hackers started to prefer to showcase their findings to the world through the platform, instead of anonymously tasking about them over some closed forums or misusing their skills.

Q — How did you keep yourself motivated to attain whatever you wanted to achieve? Can we know your success secret?

A — Secret of success: I am loyal to my ideas, no matter if there is a business model or not.

I had an idea, and whatever non-relevant but excellent opportunities I came across, I kept myself stuck to the original plan i.e., justifying the meaning of “Hacker News.”

Q — What are the failure that you face to come to this stage, and how did you overcome it?

A — Perfectionism disorder, that’s what I figured out my problem is.

Every person has a different way of thinking, handling things, taking approaches to achieve goals in life.

I never executed a plan until its production matches the original blueprint for it, and because of this, I am running very much behind my expected schedule of launching and trying new things.

To overcome this, instead of doing magic overnight, I have started splitting my plans into small chunks that I can execute within my capabilities, without risking anything and notably, without compromising the end result of the process.

Q — How do u think we can remain updated about cybersecurity issues.

A — Since THN was the first platform of its kind, it was initially effortless to attract sources themselves, leading back to me. But things have now changed, and there are competition, time, and quality race.

However, since the idea of our platform is very concentrated, we are bounded to write content very selectively, which actually is a very better self-imposed limitation to maintain quality over quantity.

Q — Have you ever felt like you’ve hit a wall or have a mental block with anything (not just in this field) how do you overcome it?

A — Things never remain the same throughout life. When I was a bachelor, I had enough time to invest, haha. But recently, I am facing one of the most enormous mental pressure on me to complete tasks on time that I am aware that I can do, should be done, but can’t do because 24 hours a day is not sufficient to balance my day.

In short, I have finally reached a point where I know what my day plans be for the next 10 years, and psychologically I am under unnecessary pressure to do everything I can overnight.

To overcome this, I have started splitting my tasks into reasonable rounds with max-periods and putting ideas into saving time minutes from each day by organizing myself more than ever before. That’s important because I can’t stop living a regular life, watching Netflix, handing out, or watching movies.

Q — What are your future plans?

A — As I mentioned, I already have a very long and ambitious roadmap for THN, so I would stick to my plan for the next couple of decades. I can’t stop until I do what I want to do, no matter if it has a business model or not.

That’s it.

If any of you have a follow-up question, post them here. I would love to answer. Thank you all.

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