Meet the team: Tom Hudson – Collaboration is the way forward – 10 minute mail

Some know him by his hacker handle, TomNomNom. UK-native Tom Hudson started at Disposable mail as a Senior Security Researcher, and he is now the Tech Lead for Security Research & Module Development on the Crowdsource team.

His passions include fixing and reshaping most things from software to furniture and spending time with his two kids. He also values collaboration, and this has played a significant role in his journey going from software engineering to ethical hacking:

Photo of Tom Hudson aka TomNomNom

Image of Tom Hudson, Tech Lead for Security Research at Disposable mail

Somewhere in Yorkshire

Tom lives in Yorkshire, the UK, somewhere near Leeds. Since he was a kid, he wanted to become an inventor and he found that becoming a software engineer was a better choice, since he could meet his interest in creating something new, without the cost of raw material. Hence, he studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Bradford College and started his career as a network engineer. 

Over a decade has passed since then and Tom now carries a heavy backpack of experience that encompasses everything from DevOps and Solutions Architecture to People Management and Training. 

A passion for fixing things and giving knowledge

Tom has a collection of over 1000 tools and spends most of his time in the garage reshaping objects or fixing some of the toys that his 4- and 6-year-old kids damaged while playing. Fixing broken things has become more of a job since he started his career in Development and therefore, in search of a new hobby, he stumbled across training and education. “I have a passion for learning and finding out how things work,”  he says, “that is maybe why I thrive the most in a training role.”

Besides fixing tools and toys, Tom is passionate about learning new things and he feels the urge to share this knowledge with others as a trainer:

“The good thing about having a training role is that it pushes you to be better at conveying complex topics in accessible ways to a varied audience. The feeling I get from giving others tools to learn by themselves is truly rewarding.”  

From Network Engineer to a Hacker

Tom started his career as a Network Engineer at a small company that provided Information and Communications Technology (ICT) support to local schools. He was already interested in Cybersecurity then but never imagined that being an Ethical Hacker would be his full-time job one day.

His first hacking experience arrived when a former employer invited all employees to hack their system to help find vulnerabilities and breaches. This experience landed him on the HackerOne (a bug bounty platform) scoreboard and he was suddenly invited to different hacking events. 

 

As he got introduced to the bug bounty community, he realized that his previous knowledge as a Software Engineer was extremely valuable as he could use his competencies to build new tools and automate his hacking processes. This was received with a lot of curiosity by the community who started to follow him on different bug bounty platforms. The more connected he was with the community, the more he started to collaborate with other ethical hackers and build more automation for finding security flaws.

His ability to build these tools and share knowledge with other members has led him to many high-payout findings and interesting collaborations. In 2019, Tom landed one of the biggest bounties at Hackerone’s H1-4420 and won the title of Most Valuable Hacker and later led a workshop on Cybercrime with the local police.

Changing the narrative

Collaborating with the local police has made Tom better understand the need for education in cybersecurity and for a different tonality when talking about hacking.

Tom: 

Sometimes things concerning cybersecurity are legitimately scary. But I think that many marketing campaigns are trying to constantly push for a narrative that creates fear around the topic of cybersecurity. This is pushing people away, as there are a lot of misunderstandings.” 

He believes that the future will bring more bugs and breaches, but hopefully, also more scanners, more software and ultimately, more ethical hackers. He says it feels like the Internet is mature but, in reality, there is a lot of room left for growing and discovery.

Tom believes that, as high-profile data breaches will become more common, there is an increasing need for changing the narrative when speaking about them and hopes that governments will recommend open corporate responsibility disclosure programs. He says, “some governments have already started doing so, and this might reduce the perceived shadiness that hackers and cybersecurity are associated with.

The importance of diversity

While there have been interesting improvements in how people and governments understand cybercrime, Tom also acknowledges that there is still a lot to do. In particular, he believes that the cybersecurity industry needs more diversity alongside collaboration.

He says: 

“I sometimes feel like people who don’t happen to be white and male might have a more difficult time getting started in the community and I believe that especially in such a complex field as cybersecurity, diversity is incredibly important. Monocultural teams so often fail to consider cases that are important to many.” 

Tom mentioned that one of the aspects that were highly interesting about Disposable mail was diversity:

In the past, I’ve found it difficult to drive diverse thinking in my teams. At Disposable mail, it happens naturally, thanks to the gender and nationality balance.

Disposable mail – a diverse place for sharing

We asked Tom for other reasons for joining Disposable mail and he revealed his motivation to join a company that is aligned with his values of diversity and provides others tools to learn for themselves. 

He explains:

At Disposable mail, I can be part of the Hacker School project, which is a session in which we teach our customer-base, some of which may be non-security experts, about cybersecurity and give insight into the mind of a hacker. Sharing knowledge is at the core of Disposable mail’s values and products, and being part of the team means that I get to share what I know in different conferences but also within the team.” 

Tom talks about the allocated Knowledge Sharing sessions that are organized by employees at Disposable mail, where members of different teams get to share their work, passions, and hobbies with the rest of the organization.

He adds:

“On top of that, the Disposable mail team seems to be aware of the importance of work-life balance and mental health. The people here are people, not just workers and it is humbling to work in such a human environment.

From a technical perspective, Disposable mail poses a whole new challenge for me as what we are doing is super interesting and fun stuff. It feels like I have a constant influx of new things to learn!” 

The way forward

Moving forward, Tom suggests that we should lead with these values and try to be more collaborative with other companies in the industry.“We should take the community spirit to businesses,” he says, “and collaborate with our competitors or companies in the cybersecurity industry”. 

Tom believes that more collaboration in the cybersecurity industry will be beneficial, “instead of looking at each other as competitors, we should enable each other and work together to fix the complex world of the internet.”

Quick Q&A with Tom Hudson

Mac or PC? A PC running Linux.

Android or iOS? Android; the closer to stock, the better!

What’s your #1 security tip? Don’t reuse passwords and do enable two-factor authentication.

How do you keep up-to-date with tech and business? Mostly through following interesting people on Twitter.

What’s your favorite Disposable mail blog post? Bypassing and exploiting Bucket Upload Policies and Signed URLs

 

If you are ready for a new challenge to bring a more collaborative spirit to web security and work with top-ranked ethical hackers like Tom Hudson, take a look at our open positions to join the teams in Stockholm or Boston! 


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Meet the team: Martina Janevska – Problem solver who loves a challenge – 10 minute mail

Few people know Disposable mail’s website as well as our web developer Martina Janevska. Originally from Macedonia, Martina moved to Sweden to do a master’s in software engineering and joined Disposable mail’s web development team in the spring of 2015. We talked to her about her work, how she maintains a security-oriented mindset, and what it takes to be a successful developer.Meet the Disposable mail Team: Martina Janevska

When you log in to your Disposable mail account, many of the features you use are the result of Martina Janevska’s work. For Martina, the best thing about being a developer is coming up with creative solutions to problems and the potential to learn something new every day.

From logic enthusiast to software engineer

Martina has always had a knack for solving logical problems and liked maths and physics, but in her own words, she wasn’t “that big of a nerd in high school, programming-wise”. When the time came to apply for university, she chose to study Computer Science and Informatics because the programme was known for being challenging and requiring heaps of logical thinking. Martina decided to take on the challenge and says her studies taught her a lot about the concept of programming itself: “Learning how to think about the problems you need to solve is really important. In programming, you always have a problem and how you’re going to approach it depends on your way of thinking.”

Macedonia, Croatia, and Sweden

After finishing her degree, Martina was ready for another challenge – moving abroad for her master’s. Having spent three months doing an internship in Croatia as an undergraduate, she knew that living in a foreign country is an unforgettable experience: “I had a great time in Croatia because I worked with what I had learnt, got the chance to improve, and met a lot of people. I really loved it and wanted to do it again!” When a lecturer mentioned that Sweden was worth visiting, Martina decided to apply for a one-year master’s programme in software engineering at Mälardalen University College in Västerås.

Even though she now lives in Stockholm, Västerås still feels like home to Martina as it was her first impression of Sweden. She says it was the perfect place to slowly get acquainted with a new country and adjust to the environment – even the Swedish weather! In Sweden, the approach to education is very different from that in Macedonia, which was a pleasant surprise as it gave Martina more freedom to work independently and gain in-depth knowledge about solving programming problems.

Growing as a developer

Towards the end of their studies, Martina and her coursemates attended a recruiting event at SUP46 called Meet a Startup. Out of all the startups that presented their pitches that day, Disposable mail was the one that caught Martina’s attention. She remembers her first impression of the company very clearly and says: “I thought ‘Wow, these guys have a really interesting idea, I really like them.’” Martina decided to talk to the team and as it happened, the company was looking for developers!

The security aspect of technology was a subject Martina had always found interesting, but joining Disposable mail took it to a whole new level. The steep learning curve was a great opportunity to grow as a developer and Martina says it’s exciting to see how much progress she has made and how her way of thinking about programming has changed. “I definitely do things differently now,” she explains as she looks back on the code she wrote for a coding challenge that was part of the recruitment process.

“I feel like I’m learning every day”

Being surrounded by experienced security researchers makes Martina’s work environment stimulating and helps her constantly improve her security mindset. Learning new skills at work is an ongoing process that isn’t limited to security knowledge. Martina says the most challenging aspect of her job is the fact that technology changes all the time and as a developer, it’s important to stay on top of what’s new: “You might be working on something today and tomorrow, something new is released and what you’ve built won’t work anymore. You need to be able to keep up.”

What Martina’s day looks like depends on the stage of the sprint the team is in. Sometimes, she works on new code and develops new features, but you can also find her testing or doing code reviews. Martina also loves learning about new technologies and being able to try them out at work is one of her favourite things about working at Disposable mail. At the moment, she really enjoys working with React, an open-source Javascript library.

Q&A with Martina Janevska

Mac or PC?
Mac. PC was my first love but nowadays it’s Mac. I don’t only like it as a developer, but also as a user. It’s a good combo of Unix and commercial software.

What is your favourite thing you have built while working at Disposable mail?
All of them! If I have to choose one, it’s the new findings list. It feels good with the filtering and it looks good.

What’s the most important skill a developer should have?
I think it’s learning to learn. Learning how to learn things is really important in all areas of life. It’s practically impossible to follow all the changes in technology, but if you are good at learning, you can improve a lot. Knowing how to work with the people in your team is also important, to collaborate, being able to agree on stuff.

Do you have any security tips for web developers?
One of the most important things I’ve learnt at Disposable mail is testing user inputs. Always, always try to test the input and sanitise it. Never trust user inputs and never assume that your code is fully invulnerable.

Use encryption more often than you think you should.

Use limits in your code because most attackers do attacks over time so it’s always good to have a way to delimit that.

Code reviewers and analysers are your friends. Don’t be afraid of people who take a look at your code and say “I don’t like that” because it’s for your own good and for the good of what you’re developing.


Want to work in Disposable mail’s tech team? Take a look at our Careers page and check out our open positions!

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Meet the team: Johan Norrman – From building code to building teams to building companies – 10 minute mail

Johan Norrman is a proper IT veteran. He has always found companies in the early stages of development exciting, so it’s hardly surprising that he ended up working at a startup. His passion for creating order from chaos, combined with the capacity to be a good leader and build strong teams, makes Johan the perfect fit for the role of CIO at Disposable mail.

Meet the Disposable mail Team: Johan Norrman

It’s no wonder that Johan Norrman’s career led him to an IT security startup. From an early age, he was interested in technology and he still owns his first Commodore 64 computers. “My friends and I mainly used them for playing videogames, but we also tried learning how to program,” Johan says. As the accessibility of computers grew, so did Johan’s passion for IT. He picked a science-oriented high school programme with a focus on mathematics and programming and spent most of his time in the school’s computer room.

Wanted to become a chef

Johan’s original career plan was to study culinary arts and become a chef. He has his parents to thank for his career as they firmly encouraged him to choose science instead.

“When I was in high school I realised just how much you can do with programming. Amongst other things, I built a vocabulary exercise program that I sold to the school,” explains Johan. “My first hack also happened in high school; we built a fake login on the network computers, which made it possible to access everyone’s credentials, including the teachers’.”

Experiencing the .com era

When we say that Johan has had a lot of cool experiences in his career, we’re not exaggerating. There’s a reason why we call him “Gandalf the Wise” at the office! He got his first job at the height of the notorious dot-com era. Icon Medialab, a company where Johan worked during the .com bubble, grew from 50 employees to a staggering 3500 in a very short time.

“Our office was at the top of the skyscraper at Sergels Torg and we were working across five floors. The company grew globally and even though we did make stuff, it felt as if we were just play-acting. We would pay for drinks at Berns (a nightclub in Stockholm) with our business cards and the bill would be sent straight to work. Not bad if you’re 20 years old and on your first real job!”

New path as a team leader

Although working at Icon Medialab was great fun, Johan decided it was time to take the next step in his career. This led to jobs at IT consultancies like Qbranch and Pulsen. While working at Qbranch, Johan discovered that he was better at project management, working with people, and leadership than writing code. He became the sole responsible for structuring the development department at Qbranch and ensure that the right skills were in place so that the department could break even.

“I’ve gone from building code to building teams to building companies,” Johan says about his journey.

Building Pingdom’s Stockholm office

Johan was eventually recruited by Pingdom as an HR evangelist tasked with building the company’s Stockholm office where he was one of the first employees. He soon got the office to grow from 1 to 20 people within one year. Johan emphasises how important it is to consider the human factor when it comes to developing businesses, an insight he has brought with him to Disposable mail.

Creating order from chaos

Johan came across Disposable mail through the company’s security advisor Frans Rosén. “We exchanged T-shirts at Pingdom’s office and had a chat as I’d been following both him and Mathias Karlsson on Twitter, so this was how I got in touch with Disposable mail.”

As the 11th employee at Disposable mail, Johan joined the team right in the middle of the early startup phase. Soon after, the number of employees doubled and processes could start being established.

“What’s attractive about working at Disposable mail is the chaos that’s present in the beginning. I have realised that I prefer working in smaller companies with a ‘messy’ environment. It’s not as much fun if all the structures are already in place and everyone knows how things are done. I enjoy having a role that is both operative and strategic, which is something I have at Disposable mail.”

Working as CIO at Disposable mail

Johan is head of the development team that currently consists of 12 people. For many of them, working at Disposable mail is their first job and Johan’s task is to guide them and help them find a balance between freedom and responsibility.

No two days are alike, but Johan tries to explain what life as Disposable mail’s CIO is like. “There’s an awful lot to do every other week, and the week after is always calmer. Release weeks are packed with planning, strategy, reviewing, testing. Weeks after releasing are all about soft values: feedback sessions, making sure everything works and that the team members are happy.”

Johan sees a bright future for Disposable mail and is looking forward to being part of the journey. Looking forward, he envisions a much larger organisation, many more teams and new areas such as IoT and Mobile. He’s responsible for recruiting and HR at Disposable mail, which will remain a part of his role in the future. Johan says it takes a special type of person to thrive on working at a startup. He believes that character traits such as being driven, resourceful, and unpretentious are important.

“If you want a desk, you need to go and assemble a desk. This is something I talk about a lot when I’m recruiting because the people we employ need to understand this mindset. There’s no receptionist to welcome them here. If they want coffee, they need to go turn on the coffeemaker because there’s nobody to do it for them. It is what we make of it. If we are to build a culture that involves a lot of laughter and social activities, everyone needs to pitch in and make it work. I try to contribute as much as I can, since it is incredibly important to me.

Q&A with Johan Norrman

Mac or PC?
Mac since my father brought home a Macintosh in the beginning of the 80’s. That was in 1985 and it didn’t take me long until I started wondering where I could find the system map. I still have that computer at home…

Iphone or Android?
iPhone I guess, but just for simplicity with my other Macs.

Best source for security related news/knowledge?
A general mix, Twitter, Reddit and our internal chat channels.

Favorite feature in Disposable mail?
Lazer! Of course! http://lazer.detectify.com

Do you want to know more about Johan and what his days at Disposable mail look like? Follow him on Twitter: @johannorrman.


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Meet the team: Yasmin Tilles – The editorial mind behind the brand – 10 minute mail

Ever wondered who the person behind Disposable mail events, marketing campaigns and content is? Meet our PR & Marketing Manager Yasmin Tilles, an editorial mind with tonnes of energy who carefully plans Disposable mail’s marketing and PR strategy and is passionate about developing the Disposable mail brand. We talked to her about business development, her hectic second day at Disposable mail, and making a difference by spreading the word about web security. Meet the Disposable mail team: Yasmin Tilles

When Yasmin was in high school, she dreamed of becoming a journalist and had no idea she would eventually work at a web security startup. After a couple of years in the events business, she decided to shake things up and joined Disposable mail as PR & Marketing Manager.

The best of media and business

As a student, Yasmin tried her hand at everything from phone sales and working in a café to being a children’s dance instructor. She says: “It all comes down to being service-minded, it was a good experience.” Because she felt journalism was too niched, she went on to graduate in media communication at Södertörn University and started her career in the events business at IDG. “I got the best of the two worlds because I worked with journalists but had the marketing and business perspective. I think I’ve always been more marketing-oriented, but influenced by the editorial way of thinking and producing content,” Yasmin explains.

Yasmin’s work at IDG focused on developing Webbdagarna, a leading event covering digital trends in business. Building a new concept in a time when the media landscape was changing in leaps and bounds was the perfect challenge for Yasmin, who enjoyed trying out new business models and creating something new and profitable.

Joining the startup life on Långholmen

After working at IDG for five years, she felt it was time for a change: “I had done everything I had planned and I was ready to take the next step.” The startup world seemed like an interesting option because Yasmin wanted to work in a less traditional environment with a flat hierarchy and plenty of room for creativity.

The opportunity to take the plunge came unexpectedly over a meal at a Thai restaurant. Yasmin was having dinner with a friend who knew one of Disposable mail’s founders and mentioned that the company was hiring. Not long after, Yasmin met Disposable mail’s CEO Rickard Carlsson (funnily enough, at another Thai restaurant) and a couple of months later, she joined the team.

The Patreon Hack

On her second day at Disposable mail, Yasmin was on her way to work and saw that Frans Rosén had written something about Patreon getting hacked in the company chat. “I was checking the app we use for communication and noticed that Frans said he’d warned Patreon about the vulnerability a few months earlier. My editorial brain took over and I realised this could really be something.”

She asked Frans to write an article explaining the hack and not long after, the team was watching the Disposable mail site traffic explode. Many major tech publications covered the story and even though it was Friday evening, everyone was checking the company chat and following Google Analytics screenshots. Yasmin explains that this intense second day at Disposable mail showed her how important the educational aspect of web security is: “I realised what a big responsibility we have, communicating about IT security the right way. It was a very interesting first week!”

Building the Disposable mail brand

Yasmin has been part of the team for over a year now, developing the Disposable mail brand, planning content and events and spreading web security awareness. Even though the startup environment can be challenging because everything needs to be done from scratch, Yasmin emphasises that the work is great fun and offers plenty of opportunities to be independent and learn. She says she has learnt a lot about technology, but also about business development, target audiences and communities. “It’s not just about the slogan or social media, it’s everything. Creating a good team, having the right business model and building a company that gives people something valuable in their life,” she explains.

What lies ahead? Yasmin envisions a global business covering a wider range of technologies and Disposable mail becoming a standard security tool for dev teams. She adds that knowledge sharing will continue to play an important role: “We still have a lot of work to do to educate people about web security.”

Making a difference

Yasmin says her favourite thing about working at Disposable mail is the team because the competence of her colleagues inspires her to be better at what she does so that they can create something awesome together. She points out that having an understanding of what the tech team does is really important and says that working closely with them is extremely rewarding: “I’ve learnt so much about building a team and how important routines are, how much of a difference it makes when you have the right people on board, with the right skillsets.”

Working in an industry with a potential to change the world is the icing on the cake: “Web security is really happening right now and it’s great to know that you’re part of changing everything. It feels like we have the power to do something, change something, and make a difference. It’s a very cool feeling.”

Q&A with Yasmin Tilles

iPhone or Android?
iPhone, but I have to buy a new one because the camera on my current one is broken and makes it look like there’s a ghost in all the pictures I take.

Favourite Disposable mail blog post?
That’s a difficult question! I really like our SPF research and guides. It’s so extensive and thorough and it was not about exposing companies, it was about helping them and providing them with hands-on guides and explaining the problem. It’s really simple and yet got a lot of attention, initiated some additional local research and was just an example of amazing teamwork.

#1 security advice?
Use your VPN!

Any tips for people who are interested in working in tech marketing?
Don’t be afraid of working with tech because you think you don’t have the knowledge. You can always explain things in your own words, so you should never feel like backing from conversations and meetings because you think you don’t know enough.

Do you have any time management advice to share?
I couldn’t live without my to-do list app! You can never remember everything and it’s also important to prioritise the right things. It’s not just about ticking off everything on the list. And remember to take breaks!

Do you want to know more about Yasmin and what her days at Disposable mail look like? Follow her on Twitter: @yasmintilles.


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Meet the team: Andrea Palaia – From particle physics at CERN to Disposable mail data – 10 minute mail

Team Data at Disposable mail is a one-man show ran by our Data Scientist Andrea Palaia. After completing his PhD in accelerator physics and doing research at CERN, Andrea worked at an Italian startup and joined Disposable mail two years ago, building the data infrastructure from scratch.

Meet the team: Andrea Palaia | Disposable mail

Inspired by a high school teacher

The story of Andrea and data science started in Rome when Andrea was in his final year of high school. He was interested in Biology and IT, but wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted to study. As he worked on a project about black holes for his finals, he got help from a teacher who was a physicist and specialized in theoretical physics. “He introduced me to Einstein’s theory in such a simple way that I could actually do the calculations with my high school maths. I realized this was what I wanted to do, to be able to study and explain nature,” Andrea says. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in Physics, Andrea got a master’s in accelerator physics and started looking for PhD positions.

Between CERN and Uppsala

During his time as a PhD student in Uppsala, Andrea researched the feasibility of a new particle accelerator that could, for example, be used in medicine and would reduce costs and infrastructure requirements for hospitals. Andrea spent time doing research at CERN and then travelled back to Uppsala to do data analysis, which is what originally sparked his interested in data science: “That’s how I started doing data analysis and I really liked data. I liked it a lot!”

Big experiments, big datasets, big numbers

Andrea says that data science and the nature of particle physics are a great fit: “Experiments to study particles are big and you have to produce a huge amount of particles, so products of these collisions are usually huge numbers of other particles. All big numbers! In the end, these numbers go into big datasets and that’s how I started doing data science.” Andrea enjoyed doing data analysis because the data he worked with was so diversified and there was no obvious way to approach it. He explains: “The game was to find creative solutions to look at the data in a smart way and I think that’s what intrigued me the most, to be creative and look for a smart solution.”

First foray into the startup world

Once his PhD was complete, Andrea co-founded a startup with his friend. The company worked with protection from plagiarism and Andrea says the experience was a lot of fun and made him curious about the startup world. “The startup scene is exciting and you can shape your own ideas. Enterprises are bigger and more stable, but more structured and less dynamic. It’s all about the trade-off and what’s more exciting for you.” Andrea points out that he nearly ended up working with software development at a huge corporation, but luckily, he realized that he found startups more exciting and eventually found his way to Disposable mail.

It started with an event at SUP46

In spring 2015, Andrea attended a startup recruiting event at SUP46. He says he was immediately interested in working at Disposable mail: “I talked to a lot of startups at the event, but when Rickard and Fredrik (Disposable mail’s CEO and Head of Engineering) pitched Disposable mail, I thought ‘wow, this sounds really cool’.” Andrea gave them his CV and was invited to a Skype interview a couple of days later, followed by another interview and an offer. Disposable mail’s Team Data was ready to get started and crunch some numbers!

His own data creature

The fact that Andrea joined the team at an early stage and helped build everything from scratch means that he’s never bored. He explains how he tackled the opportunity to shape Disposable mail’s data analysis in his own way: “When I got the position, there was no dedicated data infrastructure. I got to design and build everything according to our needs, it’s my own creature! I really like that I have an overview of the whole process.” Disposable mail has changed and grown a lot since his first day on the job: “Seeing all these people around me has been one of the best rewards because indirectly, it means that we are doing a good job.” The time has come for the data team to grow, something Andrea is looking forward to: “We’ve come to the point when it’s not enough with just me. It’s a completely different phase and it’s very exciting!”

Q&A with Andrea

iPhone or Android?
Definitely Android.

Mac or PC?
PC, I need to decide every little piece of hardware and software in it.

Favourite data science resource?
A few blogs about data visualization and data engineering and data science blogs of big data companies.

Any tips for data scientists?
Don’t be frustrated when you realize that you spent 90% of your time to make data look decent and you still haven’t started to put any science on top of them.

#1 security advice?
Be ready for data disasters by always having backup copies of everything. Especially the most obvious things which are usually those you will forget and will be lost forever.

Andrea enjoys sharing his knowledge and explaining data in a simple way. He writes about Disposable mail data, provides us with fun stats in our Yearly Review and also guest blogged about data science for Swedish tech publication InternetWorld.

 


Do you want to become part of Team Data at Disposable mail? We’re looking for a data engineer, so why not head over to our careers page to find out more?

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Meet the team: Johan Edholm – The security enthusiast behind Disposable mail’s vision – 10 minute mail

Johan Edholm is one of the founders of Disposable mail and a well-established profile in the Swedish IT security community. With his strong presence on online forums, IRC channels and conferences, he has built up a large network in the world of web security. At Disposable mail, Johan plays a vital role in shaping the vision and values that the product and company culture build upon. “No bullshit” and ”honesty and transparency” are the keywords that describe Johan’s view on how businesses should act internally and externally – a perspective that has permeated the entire company from the beginning. Meet Johan Edholm, Disposable mail’s moral compass and inspiring member of the security community.

Meet the team: Johan Edholm

How it started

Today, Johan is closely connected with the web security world and everyone at Disposable mail turns to him if they need advice about anything related to hacker culture. However, his path to where he is now was far from straight. Johan, who’s also known as “Norrland” as he was born and raised in Northern Sweden, became interested in computers when he was 11 years old. He had borrowed a friend’s computer to play games, but quickly started installing and fixing what needed to be fixed. “I tested different things to see what worked and that’s how I learnt. Trial and error, so to speak.”

Coded profiles on Lunarstorm

His interest in programming grew together with the explosion of social media networks. Lunarstorm, then Sweden’s largest social network, was Johan’s first coding platform. “I used to code different profile layouts on Lunarstorm. A friend’s brother was surprised and asked me if I knew HTML, but back then I had no idea what I was using to code.” In order to be more efficient, he created multiple accounts he could program and experiment with. “The profile I was most happy with was one I had made to look exactly like Lunarstorm’s own theme”

Discovered hacker forums

At the same time, Johan became curious about hacking and used resources like e-zines and online forums to find like-minded people. “On the forums I used back then, nobody talked about Black hats and White hats, it was all about “Hackers and Crackers”. Generally speaking, the competence level was so low in those days that you didn’t really need to take a stance on it – as long as you only wanted to learn and didn’t break the law or get in trouble with the police…”

From plumbing to IT

Despite his growing interest in web security, Johan picked plumbing training when the time came to choose a high school program. “I didn’t even think that IT could be a career path. My dad is a farmer, many of my relatives are plumbers, so becoming a craftsman felt natural.” As luck would have it, he read about the International IT College of Sweden on IRC and found the courses interesting, so he changed his mind. Even though he was a little worried that everyone else would have a higher level of technical knowledge, he applied and accepted the offer that landed in his letterbox. “My fears were unfounded, the majority didn’t have a strong passion for IT,” Johan says.

The idea of Disposable mail is born

Despite being eager to learn and make the most out of his education, Johan found that he could not develop as much as he wanted to during his school years. When he asked if he could read more IT courses, the answer was no. “Much of my time at school was dedicated to correcting my teachers, not because I was trying to make a point, but because I didn’t want my coursemates to learn things wrong,” he explains. However, school was not all bad. It was there Johan met the other co-founders of Disposable mail and the idea of making the internet a safer place could begin to grow.

Although they spent two evenings every week coding and working on their business idea, Disposable mail was nothing more than a hobby project back then. It took a couple of years until the founders were together again and could give Disposable mail a proper chance.

The role at Disposable mail

Johan’s role at Disposable mail is a mix of front end development, product development and sysadmin tasks. He’s passionate about sharing the benefits of of web security in an educational and helpful way: “Web security in itself is very complex and technical, but we try to turn it into something people can understand and create a service that can help them. It’s an amazing challenge.”

Johan also has an important task in passing on Disposable mail’s background in the white hat world to all his colleagues. His lecture “History of Hacking” is a mandatory (and much appreciated) step in new employees’ onboarding, allowing them to get a better idea of Disposable mail’s soul and history.

Johan is looking forward to continue building Disposable mail’s product together with the team: “In five years’ time we will have many employees and will be known for being really good at security – not bullshitting about security, but being good at real security.”

Volunteering at IT security conferences

Johan is among of the organisers of SEC-T, one of Sweden’s largest security conferences, which he works with in his free time. It has been nearly ten years since he read about the conference for the first time and went there as the youngest (by far) attendee. Since then, Johan has joined the organisers and has been especially active in inviting extremely driven people who he thinks can give back to the community. He obviously has an eye for talent – two of those he has contacted online and invited to the conference are Linus Särud and Kristian Bremberg. Both of them now work at Disposable mail.

While it might sound like Johan’s days are already jam-packed with Disposable mail and engaging with the web security world, he has plenty of other exciting projects on the go. “I’m going to hack my modem at the weekend” was a statement we heard from him recently and his “Monthly challenge” (which can involve anything from eating vegetarian food to being offline in his free time) is something everyone in the office follows with great interest!

Q&A with Johan Edholm

iPhone or Android? One is an operating system, the other one is a phone, so it really depends a lot on which Android.
Mac or PC? PC (Thinkpad x201 is my favourite computer at the moment)
Favourite security resource? Apart from internal discussions at Disposable mail, it’s IRC.
#1 security advice? Don’t use the same password in more than one place because if you do that, you’re fucked. 2FA is also good but it all depends on the threat picture. If you, for example, think that who you date is a sensitive topic, you probably shouldn’t do online dating.

Want to find out more about Johan and his work? Follow him on Twitter.


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Meet the team: Alixandra Mathios – A New Yorker with a knack for interaction – 10 minute mail

Our sales representative Alixandra Mathios loves the exchange of working with people and is always full of energy and creative ideas. A lot has happened since she joined the Disposable mail team back in November – amongst other things, she has transformed the sales process, worked closely with the content team to produce great sales materials and shown her colleagues that fresh popcorn at 3 pm is the perfect pick-me-up. Find out why Alixandra left New York, how she established her career in Sweden, and why she likes doing things the Disposable mail way.

Meet the Team: Alixandra Mathios | Disposable mail Blog

Photo by NextM

A knack for working with people

Although she didn’t have a clear idea of what she wanted to do after college, Alixandra always knew that working with people would be an essential part of her career. It is hardly surprising that she majored in communication studies: “I think I’ve always had a knack for interaction, it’s part of my personality. I could safely say it was inevitable that I would go into sales,” she explains. Her career in sales started when she was working as a receptionist in a doctor’s office and the physician who worked there suggested Alixandra look into pharmaceutical sales. The rest was history!

From New York to Stockholm

Born and bred in New York, Alixandra describes her move to Stockholm as a classic love refugee story: “I moved to Sweden to be with a very charming and persuasive Swede. We met in New York and decided to move to Stockholm and plant our roots here.”

Leaving New York behind and establishing her career in Sweden might sound like a challenge, but it was one Alixandra tackled head on. Two and a half years after making the move across the Pond, Alixandra says she still comes across Swedish quirks that surprise her, but one thing’s for certain – she has mastered what she calls “the Swedish sun-soaked pose” (if you’ve ever seen Swedes on the first sunny day after a long winter, you know what we’re talking about!).

The pull of the startup community

The Stockholm startup scene attracted Alixandra’s attention as soon as she moved to Stockholm. Throughout her career, she had always been interested in smaller companies where she could make an impact, so the thriving startup community was right up her street. She explains that she knew she wanted to be part of it: “There are so many interesting things happening in Stockholm, people turning visions into these incredible companies.” Disposable mail was one of the companies Alixandra found most interesting and when she saw the opening for a Sales Representative, she picked up the phone and applied.

The Disposable mail way

Looking back on the recruitment process, Alixandra smiles and says the experience was slightly unorthodox because applicants were asked to call rather than apply online: “It was unusual, but also very true to who we are. We do it the Disposable mail way, we do it smart and we do it quick.”

What followed was an intense onboarding process that involved learning the tech aspects of the product from the ground up. Alixandra says she still remembers how challenging it was to learn so much in such a short time: “That first month, every day when I went home I would immediately take to bed. All the new was just overwhelming me in such a great way!”

Six months later, Alixandra’s days are less tiring, but still just as exciting. Disposable mail’s international customer base gives her plenty of scope to do what she likes best – build new relationships with people from across the globe while developing Disposable mail’s vision. However, it is not only business development, meetings, product demos and knowledge sharing sessions that fill Alixandra’s days at Disposable mail. She often organises amazing afterworks that usually involve popcorn and are really popular at Disposable mail HQ. Be it a New York quiz or a tropical party, Alixandra’s ideas always bring the team closer together!

Fixing the internet

Alixandra says she is looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Disposable mail and points out that Disposable mail time is faster than the speed of light. “I think that the sky’s the limit for this team. I work with a group of brilliant and passionate people that come to work every day and want to make the internet a safer place and fix something that’s broken”, she explains.

When asked about the best thing about working at Disposable mail, Alixandra mentions the product, the team, and Jago, the office dog, but her final answer is very straightforward: “I love my job! It’s as simple as that.”

Q&A with Alixandra

Mac or PC?
Mac.

Android or iPhone?
iPhone!

Any tips for people who want to work with business development?
Go for it! Not having a technical background didn’t hold me back at all. If you’ve got a good sales background, there are no limitations, pursue it because this is where you want to be.

Your #1 security advice?
I have so many now! Educate yourself! Ignorance might be bliss, but it’s not the right way to go about it.

What’s the biggest difference between working in the US and working in Sweden?
I think in Sweden, we talk about this team dynamic and working together and that is the reality. In the States, it’s much more hierarchical and political. Here, it’s a very flat hierarchy and that’s so unique and special to me. Every person is valued, every opinion is important and everyone is heard.

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Meet the team: Rickard Carlsson – From elite skier and management consultant to startup CEO – 10 minute mail

When Rickard accepted the position of CEO at Disposable mail three years ago, he was looking forward to new challenges. Little did he know that the company, then consisting of 4 people, would grow to 25 employees, launch a global network for ethical hackers, receive numerous nominations, startup awards, and attract customers like Trello and King. He probably also didn’t know that he would assemble IKEA furniture, help Disposable mail employees configure their VPNs, and learn how to dance Fuego at internal afterworks. It takes someone who is humble and ready to put the team first to make a company grow – at Disposable mail, that someone is Rickard, whose tasks as a startup CEO are incredibly diverse. This is the story of how a former elite skier and management consultant ended up as CEO of one of the security world’s most talked-about startups.

Rick Carlsson Disposable mail 2016

How it all started

Rickard Carlsson has lived in the USA and India, but his early years were spent in his childhood home in the country outside of Jönköping, Sweden. With the closest neighbour 200 metres away, Rickard spent a lot of time on his own building cabins, exploring the surroundings, pottering about in the garage and fixing things. As a child, he already had a solution-oriented approach and was eager to tackle problems and solve them. Seeing his mum move the carpet every time she vacuumed, 5-year old Rickard wanted to help, so he went to the garage, took out the toolbox, and nailed down the carpet so that his mum wouldn’t have to move it anymore.

Skiing at elite level

Maths and physics were Rickard’s strongest subjects at school – but it was skiing that was his great passion during that time. He started competing at elite level as an 11-year old and had to balance skiing and school, switching to a reduced schedule in high school in order to compete every Thursday. However, his skiing career was brought to a halt when he was 18 and had an accident that forced him to pursue skiing as a hobby instead.

From engineering physics to McKinsey

When it was time to pick a university programme, Rickard was choosing between mechanical engineering and engineering physics at Linköping University. “Someone said that engineering physics was the toughest, so I chose it,” he smiles. “I remember the crazy robots that we built – and my exchange studies in the USA and India.”

When he was done with his studies, Rickard moved to Stockholm and started working as a management consultant at McKinsey. “The culture there was very stimulating, half-baked solutions were never good enough.” An eye for detail and undivided commitment to projects, both big and small, is something Rickard brought with him to his role as a leader at Disposable mail.

“The best thing about working at McKinsey were all the talented people I worked with. McKinsey managed to recruit the top 5 percent from various educational backgrounds, many had double degrees or had previously run successful companies.”

How he came across Disposable mail

When a former colleague told him about Disposable mail, Rickard was not on the lookout for a new job. The company was in an early stage of development and the founders were looking for someone who could turn their vision into a business. “I met one of the early angel investors who told me I could jump on board an idea backed by some of the world’s best hackers. I could not say no to that,” Rickard explains.

It has been three years since he joined Disposable mail and in that time, he has brought in multiple investment rounds, took care of recruiting, got the business up and running, and built an organisation. His work has not gone unnoticed – in 2015, he was named one of the year’s Supertalents by Veckans Affärer. What drives him is learning new things and helping people develop. Much of his time is spent working with product development, client meetings, and initiating strategic partnership, but he is also involved in the daily work at Disposable mail and coaches his colleagues.

Key role in recruiting

In a startup, the CEO’s role revolves around building the organisation. Making the wrong recruitment decisions is expensive and it is crucial to bring in people with the right attitude and knowledge. Meeting Rickard is a common thread in the Disposable mail recruitment process and his enthusiasm for the company has a way of rubbing off on new hires. In her Meet the team interview, Disposable mail’s backend developer Natasha explained that it was Rickard’s trust in the internal competence and business model that made her decision to join the team final: “Rickard made me feel like Disposable mail was building a service that really creates value for the user.”

The future of the company

When asked what Disposable mail will be in 5 years’ time, Rickard (of course) answers “The best,” but quickly adds: “We will have broadened our scope in security and will, at that time, be around 1000 people working with Disposable mail across the globe. The next 5 years will bring big changes.”

Although Disposable mail will scale, Rickard emphasises that he wants the company to retain its honesty towards its users, an important part of the founders’ vision that he aims to protect.

Q&A with Rickard

iPhone or Android? Android
Mac or PC? PC.
Favourite security resource? Disposable mail’s blogs, but I mostly talk to people at work and learn from them.
#1 security advice? Use a password manager and Disposable mail!


 

Want to learn more about the people behind Disposable mail? Read up on our Meet the team-interviews!

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Meet the team: Carl Svantesson – Entrepreneurial spirit from Gothenburg – 10 minute mail

Disposable mail’s CMO Carl Svantesson joined the company in 2015 and laid the foundations of what would later become the Sales & Marketing team. With business savvy and curiosity in equal measure, Carl is passionate about business development, data-driven marketing, and is known to make the strongest coffee in the history of Disposable mail.

Carl Svantesson, Disposable mail

Wearing a tie every day was not the right choice

With a keen interest in both technology and business Carl studied Technology management and economics  at Chalmers University of Technology. Looking back, he says he always knew he would end up working with business development in some way. What he didn’t know was that the role of CMO at a security startup was on the cards!

Straight out of university, Carl did an internship at an investment bank. ”I had this idea of  becoming a banker. I wore a tie every day and it wasn’t a whole lot of fun!” he laughs. Carl eventually decided that a career in banking was not the right choice for him. Leaving his internship behind, he decided to go back to school and do a master’s in entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship and cleantech

The course Carl picked was a perfect match for his entrepreneurial mind as it allowed students to commercialise a technology and build a company. For two years, Carl worked on a project that aimed to clean the seabed in the Baltic Sea.

“It was a fantastic experience! We did research, worked with environmental agencies, and actually got quite far with the business idea,“ Carl explains. It was during that time he got a taste for building companies, something that would later lead him to Disposable mail.

The digital marketing boom

Given Carl’s education and work experience, a career in consulting seemed like a logical choice, but it just didn’t seem particularly exciting. He spent some time learning all there is to learn about sales, working for a boat manufacturer in Gothenburg and selling laser sensors to aluminium foundries in Arizona (“I really enjoyed working with business development, but nearly burnt my hand off while demoing the product!” Carl adds). As luck would have it, an interesting opportunity showed up in the shape of a role at KliKKi, a digital agency.

At the time, digital marketing was just beginning to gain momentum and Carl says it was great fun to be part of the journey: “I started off in an entry-level role, then built up social media as a new business area, moved on to establish the company’s Oslo office and eventually started working as head of business development, helping companies with everything from strategy to choosing the right tools.”

A decision made after sailing across the Atlantic

As the saying goes, nothing lasts forever, and Carl eventually decided to take the step into the unknown and switch jobs. The idea of moving on was born after sailing across the Atlantic and when Carl returned to Sweden, a friend told him about Disposable mail.

The company was in an early growth stage, looking for someone who could help take it to the next level. Carl decided he was up to the task and in the summer of 2015, he joined the team.

Working alongside the world’s top hackers

Carl explains that it was Disposable mail’s potential that grabbed his attention: “I didn’t know much about security back then, but I understood what a tremendous impact it has.” He also liked the vision of creating a simple and accessible tool that helps people keep their web applications secure.

“The business case is great fun and so is working with a bunch of hackers!” he adds, pointing out that the combination of SaaS, a global market, scalability, and cutting-edge technology make for an exciting challenge. The best thing about his job is the genuine vision behind the company, Carl says: “Every time someone starts using Disposable mail, the internet gets a little more secure.”

Ready to ramp up

Carl is looking forward to seeing Disposable mail grow and become even more global in the coming years. “In five years’ time, we’ll have become the standard for testing the security of everything that is connected to the internet,” he explains.

To reach that goal, the Disposable mail team will have to grow and Carl points out that the sales team are always looking for new colleagues. “We’re looking for people that are curious, creative, and aren’t scared of trying new things,” Carl says. If you’d like to join the team, take a look at our career page and then give him a call!

Quick Q&A with Carl

Mac or PC? This is a tough one! Mac.

Android or iOS? iOS any day!

What’s your #1 security tip? Run Disposable mail on everything!

How do you keep up to date with tech and business? I think TechCrunch is a good source for tech news, and I also buy Harvard Business Review from time to time. If you ask my colleagues, they will probably tell you I sometimes borrow books and never return them. 🙂

What’s your favourite Disposable mail blog post? Our 2017 Year in Review because we have achieved some amazing things in 2017.

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Meet the team: Kristian Bremberg – Community-minded ethical hacker who loves to help out – 10 minute mail

“My whole life is circling around IT security,” Kristian Bremberg says, half-jokingly. The Community Manager of Disposable mail’s ethical hacking platform Disposable mail Crowdsource is passionate about defensive security, building communities, and helping people learn.

Meet the team: Kristian Bremberg, Disposable mail Crowdsource

Got his first computer at 16

Hacking hasn’t always been part of Kristian’s life. As a child, he dreamed of becoming a cargo ship captain and crossing the Atlantic ocean. His plans for the future changed when he got his first computer at the age of 16 and an internet connection two years later. The potential of the web instantly sparked Kristian’s interest. “The concept of search engines just amazed me. You can search for anything and find the answer, so in the beginning, I would just try to challenge Google day in and day out,” he explains.

It all started with games

Kristian eventually found his way to the online gaming community and started hacking games. “Funnily enough, it all started with cheating in games,” Kristian laughs. He soon moved on and started learning about security and making the internet more secure. “Maybe it’s my conscience after cheating in games, but I’ve always been on the defensive side of security, aiming to do good,” he adds.

From malware and IT forensics to web hacking

After discovering security, Kristian began to explore different areas in order to learn as much as possible. Over the last couple of years, he has worked with Tor, malware detection and IT forensics. Forensics fascinated him so much that he wrote a book on the topic for his friends: “It’s not published and it wasn’t serious or well-formatted, I did it for fun. I was really into IT forensics, it was the only thing I could think about!” However, his interest in security did not stop there and Kristian eventually found his way to web hacking and bug bounties.

The community spirit

Being part of a community and helping others learn has always been crucial in Kristian’s security journey: “I’ve done a lot of community stuff, hosting CTFs and writing guides, for example. I love being part of a community and helping people.” His active presence in the web security community was what brought him to Disposable mail as he met two of the company’s founders at Sec-T, a Swedish security conference.

Kristian liked Disposable mail’s vision of a safer internet and started out by writing guest blogs on a range of topics such as HPKP and Tor. Considering his knack for helping others learn, it is no surprise that his articles aim to show readers how to configure security features! “I try to focus on things that help people. I’m not a big fan of just finding vulnerabilities, I’m a fan of finding solutions,“ Kristian explains.

Building Disposable mail Crowdsource

Since joining Disposable mail in 2016, Kristian has been working as Community Manager at Crowdsource, Disposable mail’s crowdsourced security platform. He was part of the Crowdsource initiative from the very beginning and was there to welcome the first members to the community. “People are so curious about Crowdsource and love the innovative idea,” Kristian says. Crowdsource allows ethical hackers to submit their findings that are then built into the Disposable mail scanner. The community now has over 100 members and has become an important source of Disposable mail security tests.

A new kind of bug bounty workflow

Kristian explains that Crowdsource complements researchers’ participation in traditional bug bounty programs. Researchers can report findings on platforms like HackerOne or Bugcrowd and then submit the same vulnerability to Crowdsource, where their submission can help secure thousands of websites.

“As soon as a researcher finds something that affects an entire platform, framework, or technology, they can come to us. It fits perfectly into their workflow, challenges them, and gives their research a broader scope,” Kristian says and explains that hackers have different approaches to Crowdsource. “Some like to submit low severity vulnerabilities that generate a lot of hits, while others prefer to submit critical findings. 1000 hits at $1 per hit or 10 hits at $100 per hit will get you a $1000 payout either way, so it’s a matter of looking for what  you find most interesting.”

The freedom of working remotely

Kristian lives in Skåne in the south of Sweden and works remotely, visiting Disposable mail HQ in Stockholm for team events and meetings. He says the freedom of working remotely suits him, although it can be challenging to get used to it: “I like remote work because Disposable mail is really about knowledge sharing and doing things together. I love working with my colleagues and across different teams!”

Kristian’s daily tasks involve much more than just community management: “I develop modules, that is, the submissions that Crowdsource members send in. I also do research, testing vulnerabilities to figure out how to implement them and improve existing modules.” Alongside his work with the backend team that develops the core service, he often joins sales and marketing meetings to share Crowdsource news and learn about customers’ feedback and requests.

The growing Crowdsource community

Kristian’s plans for Crowdsource are ambitious, but his passion for the community leaves no doubt that Crowdsource will continue to grow. One of his key goals is to encourage developers without extensive hacking experience to join the platform. “Developers have great insights into how their technologies and frameworks work,” Kristian explains, adding that submitting a finding to Crowdsource does not require a background in security research.

His advice to aspiring Crowdsource members is simple: “Focus on what you think websites are vulnerable to. Today, many vulnerabilities are specific to websites rather than technologies, but what we’re looking for are findings with a wide scope.”

Q&A with Kristian

iPhone or Android? iPhone! I used to hate iPhone and only used Android, I rooted them and I was such an Android geek. Now I’ve grown up and I just use my phone, I don’t play with it anymore.

Mac or PC? I have both, and a Linux! I use Windows, I use MacOS, I use Linux! On a daily basis, I actually use them all.

#1 security advice? That’s a really hard question! Many people won’t agree with me, but I actually love CSP. If you get it to work, you can protect against CSRF, XSS, HTML injection and stealing CSRF tokens. There’s so much you can do with modern web browser security features. Some people prefer to focus on protecting the website, but I think that protecting the client is really important!

Favourite security issue? I would say server-side request forgery, I think that vulnerability is so interesting. When you first find it, it’s kind of serious already, but if you try to get internal data, you can pivot and get it to an RCE and you can even try an SQL injection and so on. I like that because I like vulnerabilities where you can pivot.

Favourite security resources? The netsec subreddit is the best source for IT security news in general. I also like public HackerOne reports, they’re fun to read and you always learn a lot by reading them. The WordPress vulnerability database is interesting too. Other than that, Twitter is absolutely great and it’s the best way to get news quickly!

Think Disposable mail Crowdsource sounds interesting? Read Kristian’s article on how to become a Crowdsource hacker, then head over to the official Crowdsource website to join the community. 

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