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: 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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Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder: “I was good at making others’ code stop running very early on.” – 10 minute mail

She’s the CISO of The Internet Foundation of Sweden (IIS) and one of 14 trusted individuals to hold a Key to the Internet, which means the DNSSEC key generation for the internet root zone. Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder is also one of the few Swedes who have been inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame. She recently spoke at a Disposable mail Go Hack Yourself meet-up and we also took advantage of the opportunity to speak one-on-one with her about why she got into infosec, common security mistakes she sees from companies and why monitoring is important.

Disposable mail’s exclusive interview with Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder

Tell us briefly what was your first job?

I started working at 16 years old and got a job as a typist and here I was typing really fast, 300 characters per minute. I had to be accurate and mistakes were time-consuming since you had to use a razor blade and scrape away the typos and no one should be able to see you replaced the character. I worked for the courts that handle cases of inheritance so you can imagine no mistakes were allowed.

I’m a very curious person and I want to move on when I get tired of things, and at one point I felt like I was at the end of my learning path in this role and going back to school was the next best option for me to continue my learning journey or change jobs.

How did you get into information security?

When I worked for the Swedish agency for higher education, they were adamant on getting me to further my own education. There were options, I looked at law but thought “whoa, this is boring” and not for me. Eventually, someone recommended me to have a closer look at computer science. Despite my poor grades, I was able to qualify for this. Here they had a quota for a group called 25-5, which meant you had to be at least 25 years, working for 5 years and this is how I got in. We had a very good mix in our group. People of different ages and ethnic backgrounds. We were 50/50 gender wise and overall it was very dynamic.

There was a lot of programming and we studied six or seven different programming languages all from scratch like Basic, Cobol, Pascal, Simula, Lisp, Ada, Prolog, C… and in the end for no use at all. Programming doesn’t change that much but programmers rarely write code from scratch today. It would have been much more useful to know more about the semantics behind. I promised myself if I ever finish this exam, I will never write another single line of code and I kept that promise.

When did you realize you were in the right field?

My professor at Stockholm University, Louise Yngström was the perfect role model for me. I loved the pace and thrill of informatics from the first day and got me involved in information security. During my studies, we as programmers were not taught to think about how to restrict the values that could be put into fields (in data control), but I was curious and wrote characters where it was expecting numbers in the system, and I crashed things. I was actually not as good in writing code, rather I was good at making others’ code stop running very early on. 

I could crush any system. I also had a little fun when writing error messages to tease programmers a bit. One I remember clearly was “Don’t you think you should try doing something else like growing tomatoes? Just give up the programming.” 

What is information vs cybersecurity?

It’s same same but different names with one exception; information security is everything that involves information in any sense. You speak it, write it on paper, have it in computers. It’s the information in general and of course, how to protect it. 

Cybersecurity is more about trying to protect assets like information from antagonistic threats. If you have someone once that information that is hostile, that is the difficult distinction. 

IT security is in between because that involves computers, networks and systems. Cybersecurity is interesting since there are many people engaged in cybersecurity right now and talking about how to protect us from other Nation States yet we still don’t have enough baseline security to protect us from ourselves and our own mistakes. A lot is wide open and if we don’t have the baseline security then there’s nothing we can do to protect us from cybersecurity attacks. 

Who has the bigger responsibility for security?

We must do what we can to protect our personal information but we also have vendors with access to the same things. For instance, if I have the most secure password ever but put it in a service that stores all the passwords in clear-text, then what use do I have for a very secure password? None at all even though I made my part of the deal, but they [the service] didn’t do theirs. We all have to contribute because it’s always comes down to the weakest link.

What’s your role today?

When I first began at the Swedish Internet Foundation, we were three people at the foundation and then we worked with our subsidiary NIC-SE and they were about 10-15 people. Today we are one organization and we are just above 80 persons, the security department is still only me.

But we have delegated the information security responsibilities to the information owner. Therefore it’s not that I do all the work but I am coordinating and giving advice to my peers. I’m providing support, coaching and education to prepare our teams for internal audits and create awareness and security ownership in that way.

So what is your day-to-day? I imagine it’s really very different given the nature of your work and also considering your passions.

It differs day-to-day as there’s a mix of some monthly routines and at our organization, we move through different security themes each month. I have, for instance, this is the risk management month and I deliver training on how to make risk analysis and the goal is to get a picture of what risks existing in each stakeholder’s part of the company. We conduct a risk analysis for every larger change in a service, bringing on a new vendor and if there are organizational changes.

Next month will be the continuity month which means the work will be focused on continuity planning so that if there’s a serious incident, or even a disaster, there will be a plan for how to get back on the right track again. So I’m trying to make it easy for my stakeholders to actually take the responsibility for information security not only by telling them this is what you need to do but also serve it to them in smaller pieces so they don’t need to feel overwhelmed, but rather feel like okay, it’s not that bad. It’s been a success story with a delegation of responsibility and I have the management team supporting me on this initiative.

How often are you traveling to speak?

In a couple of years I’m about to retire or at least slowing down a bit and I will spend more time on these kinds of adventures like external meetings and speaker opportunities and advisory committees. Last year I did 72 events and I really enjoy doing it. Next week I’m off to the key ceremony in Culpepper, Virginia.

The fact is I love my work. I love to do what I’m doing. I’m very lucky for having such an interesting and rewarding work.

The Swedish security scene is relatively small compared to other countries. Is that an advantage or disadvantage?

That’s good in a sense because we’re quite generous with information sharing. In 2009 we had a major incident in .se where we distributed a fault zone file. It was damaged and didn’t work, and when that happened, nobody could do look-ups within DNS. We discovered it very quickly and that’s where being in such a small country is such an advantage since we know all the ISP (internet service provider) leads of service providers and the technicians by name.

Since I have close communication with the DNS reference group, we were able to send them an email informing them of the situation and that they had to flush their system immediate and change zone file. Within more or less an hour we solved the problem. In other countries this would probably have caused huge problems because they might not have as close of a connection to the ISPs who are running the resolvers that will have the zone files in their service. 

When did you first hear about hackers?

It could have been mentioned during my studies, but I started to hear more about it when Kevin Mitnick came along. I’ve always found hacking to be a fascinating activity and I can fully understand the means and why people try to find bugs and vulnerabilities. I can absolutely sympathize with that because it’s a thrill that gives you a kick. I think there’s a lot to learn from that philosophy because as a security person you need to be as curious. 

How has the hacking scene changed over the years?

At first, hackers were curious people who wanted to do good or to utilize services on their behalf. They did it in a way that people didn’t understand what they were aiming for. Programmers received messages and didn’t know what to do with it.

In general, I see there are more hackers today for both the ethical and malicious sides. 

How can companies protect against malicious hacker attacks?

Well, I don’t think that they can protect themselves 100% but they can make sure there’s as little damage as possible by taking appropriate security measures. Even if your company doesn’t have security people, you should have a plan of action in case of a breach.

There are many companies out there that believe they’re too small to hack or not interesting enough. What’s your take?

Well, even though you think you are not interesting enough, you are probably interesting enough to use as a weapon against others. If you don’t protect your systems because “you don’t have anything to protect”, you are thinking about it in the wrong way. 

You are actually underestimating what this is about, because when you connect anything to the internet, everything is visible. If you’re compromised, it’s possible for someone else use your systems to point to another target.

For example, there’s the case of distributed denial of service attacks where Zombie networks are created; these consist of zombie computers or zombie services that someone has taken over. I wouldn’t want my organization to become a weapon that is pointing to any other company, and imagine no other else would either. You have to make sure that you clean your own doorstep first.

What’s an emerging threat everyone should be aware of?

Nowadays, there is so much crypto-mining ongoing. Ransomware has been less common, but crypto-mining is actually growing because malicious hackers simply plant code in the background of the victim’s resources, which means the victim does all the mining work, while the hacker collects. It’s unfortunately common and goes unnoticed because many companies don’t have sufficient monitoring in place.

It seems like a no-brainer to monitor your assets. Why do you think companies neglect this?

2 reasons: First, they may not have the technical skills to do it. The other is cost. Some companies prefer not to spend money on monitoring because they would rather buy boxes for intrusion detection, firewalls or anything else rather than tracking what’s going on in their network or cloud.

I think monitoring your systems is one of the most important things you can do. That way you know what’s going on, know what kind of resources do you have and you can ensure they are used in the proper way. And if not, if something happens you should be notified and become aware of it directly. But unfortunately many companies still don’t monitor, which creates a lot of blind spots.

On that note, what about open source security solutions? Can those work for companies with a low cybersecurity budget?

I do like open-source and open-source doesn’t really mean that it’s free. It’s possible to engage in open source development groups for instance in GitHub where you can contribute to building good software that is open for everyone to improve and use. However, open-source products do not necessarily have automatic releases or the support agreements as you might get when you buying products from Microsoft or Apple. You have to be willing to spend money on the expertise you need for the support to make it sustainable.

At the beginning of the year, the EU rolled out bug bounty programs for popular open source tools. Will this encourage more companies in the EU to open their own bug bounty programs?

It’s a very good move forward to better each tool’s security and to make people more interested in working with security. However, I don’t think it will make companies more ready to have a bug bounty program because you need to have a plan of action on how to handle all the security reports. You would need to have quite a good security posture before you advance to running a program. It goes back to having the support and financial resources on your team to handle the reporting and triaging.

Does your organization collaborate with security researchers?

Yes of course, and the experience is varied. Sometimes I receive messages from someone telling me they found something on our website and in order to get more information, payment is required. In such a case, I don’t agree with the approach because it’s not the right attitude if you’re looking to collaborate with a report. Then there are other people who come with a comprehensive report explaining what vulnerability was found with steps to reproduce it and even remediation tips, and it’s done in goodwill. You know what I do in those cases? I send them a big cake as thank you.

Since we don’t have a bug bounty program, I’m very grateful that security researchers send me reports if they find vulnerabilities. However I don’t like the attitude of some reporter that say I don’t tell you if you don’t give me money because that’s similar to ransom.

Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder featured on a milk carton - Photo by Safaa

Photo: Live from Safaa’s kitchen: Anne-Marie featured on a milk carton

You’re a big role model for many IT professionals in Sweden and especially women in tech. What’s the key to attracting more women to become technicians and join industries like IT security? 

First of all, we need to find a language that attracts them. Our company did a study with another company to try to understand why women avoid or do women avoid the technical roles as a working area for them, and the point is they don’t. The reason why they are not in more technical roles is because of the attitude from male colleagues and that there is a glass roof. You come to a certain level but not any further, that is very common in larger companies as a female.

Women have a harder time getting to the middle management level than a man, and when you’re there, as a woman you can feel very lonely in a group that is 99% men. So it’s not the workload; it’s not the work hours; it’s other work environment factors that are impacting. In order to attract more women, we need to make them more comfortable to be in the workplace.

Despite this challenge, what actions can a company take to welcome women professionals?

There’s no Silver Bullet on solving the gender equation as it’s a lot of these bits and pieces. For example, having networks that bring females together and offering mentorships is a way to begin. By doing so, you welcome in younger women in this area. From what I’ve seen and people I’ve met, the interest is there from young females.

Information security is such a huge area where one could do everything from internal auditing to writing documents in Management Systems to writing code, or have operational responsibilities for security as a breaker or defender. There are so many options.

Security Professionals are challenged with showing ROI for their security Investments. What can they do to meet this need?

If you do a risk assessment, find a number of risks and you do the calculation of what would it cost the company in the case of a full stop in production for one hour, 10 hours and up to a week, then you have some monetary numbers to motivate. Once you realize what it will cost the company, you need to figure out exactly what it is you want to protect and if it takes at least two days to get things back on track, will the total operational cost of it be more or is it less than what the disaster caused in total.

It is a balancing act. it’s not that you can put as much money on security as possible just to make sure that you’re 100% protected, rather you should make calculations. If you choose to manage risk, it has a value and it has a price tag. Some others are in situation where security isn’t something they can afford at the moment, and if that’s the then you need to find something that you can do that is feasible because anything is better than nothing.

You cannot always look for the perfect solution, but do your best at the moment and then next year you can try a little bit harder and make sure that you are at least making improvements. You want small steps, not the status quo. There’s a saying, “Don’t ever let the good be the enemy of the best if you are good enough.”

Another thing is to speak in business terms because it’s all about business, it’s not all about security. I’d say stop painting all these threats pictures because if you threaten someone they would just stop listening. It’s easier to hide under cover since business focused people don’t want to hear about it. But if you talk in business terms and tell them “this is how much we will lose if X happens”, then I think you have their ear in a better way.

What’s a common security mistake you see made by companies? 

Yes, it’s lack of encryption. I commonly see there’s a lack of understanding of encryption for example not knowing the basics like HTTPS or start TLS for web and email.

If it can happen that Firefox forgets to update certificates, and all of the plugins stop working then you realize that something is lacking here because monitoring certificates is not rocket science. You should know what certificates you have, when they’re valid and when you have to renew – it should be automatic to track these. 

If you look at all the recent public breaches, we’ve seen Sony, Facebook, Yahoo and so on. Some small companies think they might not make a headline, but you know, if a breach happens, you will still suffer. That why it’s important to have some baseline security knowledge and to monitor everything.

Thank you again Anne-Marie for your time to be interviewed by us. Learn more about Anne-Marie and her work at The Internet Foundation in Sweden.

Written by Jocelyn Chan
Marketing Coordinator

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Meet the Team: Emelie Andersson – Building a fast-flying sales team – 10 minute mail

Swedish west coast native Emelie Andersson moved to the other side of the country 6 years ago to pursue a career in software sales. Today she is the Head of Sales for our EMEA team, and is leading the team to capture markets with a growing interest in collaborating with white hat hackers.

Meet the team: Emelie Andersson

Sales – a challenging thrill

Emelie graduated back in 2013 in Business, Accounting and Project Management by IHM Business School. She then decided to pursue a career in sales as in her words, “Sales is the best profession there is!” What she loves the most about it is that she gets to meet and talk to different people and is always challenged to learn and improve from them. There’s a thrill that naturally comes from working with sales that’s also addictive, and she can’t see herself doing anything else.

She says, “the great thing with my profession is that it’s both a whole lot of fun, and there’s almost always one daily surprise that kind of throws you off the course you’́d set, which forces you to activate your curiosity and problem solving ability.” 

So what is it about software sales that Emelie particularly enjoys? “Software is influencing how everything around us operates and, to some extent, set́s the pace of the development of society. It kind of tells its own story, and I know I want to be a part of this development.”

From sports business to active sales in SaaS

Our Head of Sales for EMEA, however, did not always sell software. Emelie started her sales career as a Key Account Manager for a sports business company in Gothenburg. There, she learned to act as a key point of contact  for different clients. However, she truly learned about active sales and how to acquire new customers when she moved to Stockholm to join a Swedish SaaS company that offers an employee platform for compensation and benefits. She worked there for 6 years and had the luxury to experience the challenges of working in a fast-growing tech company that went from being the three founders to become a 400+ employee company in around 10 years. 

The keys to growth for the scale-up phase

During this time, Emelie learned that in order to thrive in such an environment, one has to constantly be prepared for change as a decision taken today could more or less be outdated tomorrow. She experienced rapid growth of teams, which included adding new colleagues, new roles and new ideas that constantly challenged the status quo: 

“Rapid growth is both an advantage and a challenge in a company’s development. You have to be prepared to constantly question and be questioned on the way you do things. When you’re in a scale-up phase, you should have a framework and established processes but still always make sure that you do not become too bureaucratic, as that would slow the pace down instead of bringing efficiency forward.” 

Into the world of hackers and internet security

After six years in HR software sales, Emelie found that she could do her job with her eyes closed and Disposable mail managed to catch her attention at the right time. We asked her why she decided to join our rocket ship:

“Internet security will most likely not become less important just by looking at how our society is developing. You could work with and sell IT security in many companies but what’s particularly great about Disposable mail is that we help our clients understand the  importance of keeping track of the latest security findings, and to keep up with the fast-moving threat of potentially being hacked. That’s why I think our Crowdsource community of handpicked ethical hackers is pure genius for product development.”

Joining Disposable mail 

Emelie goes on about the benefits of working at Disposable mail: “I love the international aspect and the fact that you get to work with colleagues from all over the world – from different cultures! Everyone working here is very humble but also experts at what they do, which is a work environment I am proud of being a part of. To top this off, you also get to work in close cooperation with renowned ethical hackers – now, how cool is that?!”

But of course, working at Disposable mail is not all roses as selling the product involves learning how to answer challenging technical questions. Emelie says the technical questions our sales representatives get during client meetings cannot be compared to those posed during her time in previous companies: “The questions I used to get are not even comparable to how much technical knowledge is handled by our sales team in Disposable mail and this new potential learning curve played a crucial role in my decision to join Disposable mail as I was eager to push myself to learn about new technologies”. 

Selling a product built upon user understanding

Emelie explains that the communication around Disposable mail’s product is a challenge in itself. “Our first points of contact are security professionals who are familiar with automated security solutions and they ask very relevant questions since they often know what they need. Disposable mail’s founders are developers themselves so of course, that plays in our advantage, as they have a good understanding of what our clients want from the product.”

She adds that Disposable mail helps organizations work with security in a more streamlined way: “We have the functionality to support smoother and efficient cooperation through all layers of working with security – from developers to security engineers, application managers up to the CIO.”

However, it takes more than that to become a key player in the cybersecurity space. Emelie says:

“The more digital and cloud-based we become, the more vulnerable things could potentially become if we’re not careful enough. At Disposable mail we service pretty much every company with a website, small and big. In the best of possible futures – Disposable mail would not be needed as the internet would be a safe place. Until then, our vision is to fix the internet that is broken and help our clients to stay secure, reducing the entry points of being hacked.” 

She adds: “We’re challenging the cybersecurity market around us with a user-friendly product that is made with the end users – developers and security engineers – in mind. We’re constantly adding new tests crowdsourced by our white hat hacker community into the system so that our clients can “hack themselves” with harmless payloads and cutting-edge security tests. We’re helping to make it easier for developers and security teams to make their web apps better and safer, so that vulnerability findings are visible in the existing workflows.”

So we’re building a fast-flying team, together!

In order to make the internet more secure, Disposable mail needs to grow and scale. The plan for the EMEA Sales team at Disposable mail is to grow by 5 times in just a year – which means that we need to hire great people to accomplish this crazy mission! 

Emelie believes that the best sales teams consist of people who are really driven by teamwork and who wish each other success. She goes on saying: 

“Having a bunch of individualists who are not interested in their colleagues’ progress is not a good formula for building a successful sales team – that would just be a group of people but not a team.”

In order to succeed in a fast-growing scale-up like Disposable mail, individuals need to take on personal responsibility, meaning that if there is a team goal to be achieved, everyone is expected to contribute their part. That is what builds trust. Emelie believes one has to give trust to gain trust. She adds that the last, but not the least important ingredient for a successful sales team, is to leave room for mistakes and make the environment feedback friendly: 

“We’re going to make mistakes – most likely a lot of them. I want to sustain an environment for my team where we can give and get feedback with each other and actually work with the feedback to improve. We will continuously learn, we will become better and we will have a team that will help each other with individual personal development. That makes the circle complete.”

SaaS security sales isn’t for everyone, but perhaps it is for you

We constantly look for new colleagues who share these same values. Since we are entering the scale-up phase now, we are looking to bring in colleagues experienced in selling complicated B2B software at high-performing startups and willing to share this knowledge to fuel our fast growth phase. Joining our sales team means you thrive in a self-managed environment, where you are constantly learning and improving your sales skills, and feel the thrill of closing enterprise-sized deals! 

Emelie is looking forward to adding teammates that want to be a part of our journey towards making the internet more secure:

 “To be in the front line and sell a great product that really gives our customers great value and to represent it – that is the reason why you should apply. What’s also cool is that tech and sales work closely together at Disposable mail and we promise to give you the best of two worlds combined.” 

Q&A with Emelie:

Mac or PC? Previously PC. But once you go Mac you never go back…
Android or iOS? iOS
What’s your #1 security tip?  Map out responsibilities within your organization!
How do you keep up to date with tech and business? Honestly… mostly I follow our internal Slack-channel with industry news 🙂 What is shared there is usually really good stuff and almost every day I’m blown away by the amount of things there’s still left to learn in the tech-world. Endless! But that is what makes it great fun to be part of it!
What’s your favorite Disposable mail blog post? Cybersecurity from an overhead cost to a business enabler – great stuff!

If you are ready for a new challenge in the cybersecurity industry, take a look at our open positions to join Emelie and the EMEA team in Stockholm! 

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Meet the team: Johanna Ydergård – Scaling the impact of ethical hackers – 10 minute mail

Head of Crowdsource, Johanna Ydergård, joined Disposable mail to work on solving the information gap in cybersecurity by scaling the knowledge of ethical hackers and helping them make a broader impact, with the ultimate mission of making the internet a safer place.

Meet Johanna Ydergard, Head of Crowdsource at Disposable mail

Johanna Ydergård has a passion for engineering and tackling complex issues. Outside of the office she engages in the complexity of sewing dresses and creating new clothing patterns. “It is both creative and a bit of an engineering process,” she says, “it is also very hands-on and detailed work compared to what I do day-to-day at Disposable mail.” 

A broad and consultative beginning

Back in 2015, Johanna graduated from Chalmers University, where she learned to combine management, economics and data engineering. After studying this broad scope of academic subjects, she naturally wanted to continue applying her knowledge across industries and roles. Hence, she pursued the opportunity to start her career at Bain & Company – a global strategy consulting firm – with the expectations of getting herself immersed in solving complex problems, driving different projects, learning how organizations work across a range of companies and industries.

She helped large industrial organizations digitalize themselves and conducted her share of commercial due diligence to assess whether a company is worth investing in or not. “I therefore now know unreasonably much about building material, vacuum toilets, plastic boxes, beauty e-commerce, district heating facilities, men’s luxury goods and all sorts of things I don’t apply in my work today,” she says with a laugh. 

Being comfortable with uncertainty

Today Johanna is heading up Disposable mail Crowdsource, our invite-only bug bounty platform for ethical hackers. What we are doing with Crowdsource is the first of its kind in the cybersecurity industry as we bring together automation and crowdsource security to make cutting-edge security research more accessible. While Johanna has worked with many industries, this is a whole new terrain for her, and she is also challenged to make it scalable. This is her approach:

“From day one, I’ve had to learn new things quickly and make pragmatic and relevant analyses that enable quick decision making. This is familiar to me since I’ve been doing this as a consultant.  The key is to feel comfortable with uncertainty. You have to embrace the very fact of not having much idea about a certain topic at the beginning of a project and still diving in headfirst – eventually, you will understand it. I believe there is nothing that can’t be learned or can’t be done if you simply put effort into it.”

Narrowing down the focus to hackers and cybersecurity

Disposable mail also managed to catch Johanna’s attention, in a time when she was getting tired of the consulting lifestyle – traveling and changing industry focus every other month or week. Eventually, she felt the need of being part of something that is at the forefront of a field and driving development forward, rather than helping large companies try to catch up with the world.

She was particularly attracted by cybersecurity and MedTech as both industries are pushing innovation and driving change, but in the end, the fundamental question behind the value proposition of Disposable mail Crowdsource is what caught her interest.

Diving into the world of hackers

Her journey at Disposable mail isn’t always a path of roses. You’re bound to face some challenges when diving in headfirst into the world of crowdsourced cybersecurity, especially if it’s your first time standing at the springboard:

“Gaining credibility among a group of niche experts without at all being an expert myself was a challenge, but the community’s mindset is fantastic! There is a strong willingness to share knowledge with others and there is always something new to learn.”

She’s observed that to be a successful hacker, one has to keep up-to-date with new techniques and security research, as well as learn new things daily since cybersecurity is a fast-changing matter. Johanna also adds:

“The technical part of my role today requires much deeper knowledge in comparison to consulting; I have to dive into details about how our platform is built and understand it to be able to make good decisions to push development and adoption forward. Thankfully, my team has been extremely helpful and patient to support me.”

Overall, to succeed as a challenger in this industry, Johanna says that it takes curiosity and willingness to dive into a highly complex field with all its implications.

The challenge of scaling up a hacker’s impact

Johanna’s team is set with the challenge of helping hackers make a broader impact by automating their knowledge to secure more web applications. Members of the Crowdsource community send in working proof of concepts of vulnerabilities with exploitable payloads to Disposable mail via the platform. These crowdsourced vulnerabilities are automated in our web application security scanners to detect vulnerabilities in our customer base. Hackers are then rewarded with a financial kickback for every finding, and in her words, “it’s a R&D engine for vulnerabilities.

“Working with the ethical hacking community is rewarding. Even though I’m not a hacker myself, everyone is friendly and has a genuine intent to help companies get safer, by sharing knowledge and learning from others.” She adds, “it’s an unexpectedly diverse community as ethical hackers come from all over the world and many different backgrounds, although not from a gender perspective – in this regard, we still have a lot to work on!”

Running a company, within a company

As the Head of Crowdsource, Johanna is responsible for scaling this “engine” – together with her team. This entails anything from developing the crowdsourcing platform, engaging our hacker community, handling marketing activities, recruiting new hackers to setting the reward model for our hacker community. She says, “essentially, I focus on a variety of functions, ranging from strategic development to sourcing to HR to finance – it’s almost like running a mini-company, within the company!”

Building a platform made for hackers

Johanna’s plans for the department are exciting. The ambition for the coming year is to be the fastest-growing ethical hacker network that attracts the best hackers in the world, by continuing to make our Disposable mail Crowdsource platform fun, engaging and receptive to the feedback of our community. This could involve, for example, more transparency on submissions, collaborations on the platform’s development and learning from each other. The plan is also to boost the community feeling with events and content that bring people together.

The outlook of Crowdsource

The vision is simple: make Disposable mail Crowdsource the world’s largest and most scalable platform for crowdsourced vulnerability information. 

For this to happen, Johanna asserts that we need to have the best hackers onboard with a variety of skills and a larger customer base to secure. Putting these two together with our multiplier payout model, hackers in Disposable mail Crowdsource have the potential to earn amounts superior to selling vulnerability information on the black market: 

“By achieving this part, we would truly help more ethical hackers make a broader impact by securing websites en masse and at scale. But first, we need to be a significantly larger team with more platform developers, vulnerability automation developers, community managers, project managers, marketers, and probably much more. It is an ambitious plan, but that is also what makes it fun!” 

Re-defining an industry with diversity

When asked what motivates her each day, Johanna explains:

“I like how we are trying to create change and do something new that has not been done before. We want to completely re-define the flow of vulnerability information. We know that there are easier ways of earning money, easier jobs to take, but trying to change something structurally is fun.” 

And from a people perspective:

“I like that we have managed to maintain good diversity – in terms of gender and where people are from – given the context and industry we are in. I think this shows in our day-to-day work; we can merge different perspectives coming from different types of people in a fun and innovative way.”

What it takes to join Johanna and the Disposable mail team

Our team will keep on growing, which means that finding candidates who want to be part of driving change in a rapidly evolving cybersecurity space is a priority for the talent team at Disposable mail. Johanna:  “Cybersecurity is a complex subject, and I’m looking to add team members who are willing to nerd out and dive deep into the complex world of hacking and IT security to enjoy the ride together.”

Quick Q&A with Johanna: 

Mac or PC? I am OS-agnostic. For my last job, I would never have used Mac given the number of hours I spent in Excel, but in my current role, I love Mac.
What’s your #1 security tip? Use a password manager. This could help you with not reusing the same one everywhere.
How do you keep up-to-date with tech and business? My team and community are good at sharing security and tech news in our internal Slack channels.
What’s your favorite Disposable mail blog post? I enjoy all our “Meet the hacker” posts –  It is so interesting to get into the head of a hacker and understand how they think.

If you are ready for a new challenge to broaden the impact of ethical hackers, take a look at our open positions to join Johanna and the Crowdsource team in Stockholm! 

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Meet the team: Laura Kankaala – Securing companies by breaking stuff – 10 minute mail

Finland native Laura Kankaala recently joined our Detectify as a Security Researcher to contribute with our aim to make the internet safer. Her hobbies include playing video games and reading. She’s also active within the security community as a speaker, podcaster and board member of Disobey hacker conference.

Laura Kankaala, Detectify Security Researcher

image: Detectify Security Reseacher Laura Kankaala

It began in Turku

Laura Kankaala was born in Turku where she studied IT at Turku University of Applied Sciences. She became curious about hacking while she was still in university. Early on when she was engaged with building and developing systems, she realized that she was far more excited to learn about how she could exploit these. However, at that time, hacking was branded as a gray area if not even an outright criminal activity so she never imagined making a career out of it.

From sysadmin to pentester

She began her career as an Identity and Access Management Consultant with Trusteq, and there, she was in charge of system administration and did a bit of coding here and there. When it was acquired by KPMG she was able to shift her career into penetration testing, which she believes helps her a lot when grounding and writing about security research. 

Regardless of whether she was red teaming or doing research, Laura’s motivation has been constant – focusing on end users. She elaborates, “…in order to protect the Internet experience for the users, we need to make sure that the applications and software they are using don’t contain vulnerabilities that could compromise their devices or leak their private information”.

Bringing ethical hacking to the public eye

Since then, the ethical hacking space expanded but Laura believes there is still a lot to do. She still believes that the way ethical hackers are perceived and even the ways that the vulnerabilities that this community discloses are handled, needs to be worked on. This is something she continues to push for and outside of office hours, she is spreading this knowledge to the public through her own podcast, We need to talk about Infosec. Her passion and credibility also earned her the opportunity to showcase how information in our connected society can be exploited in a TV documentary series with her ethical hacker mates, Team Whack.

Laura says: 

“There needs to be solid cooperation and understanding of common rules between the researchers and companies. There are cases when vulnerabilities found by researchers are not well-received by the company. There are other cases where the researcher doesn’t know the best way of contacting the responsible parties which cause problems for the researchers. Right now safe harbour and responsible disclosure policies work to some extent – but not all companies have them.”

She describes her work as simple as trying to break stuff – in this case, systems – and figuring out how they can be fixed or defended against someone else trying to do the same thing. In most cases, she works directly with companies or organizations to understand how to build code that is resistant to be broken.

Breaking things with eagerness to keep learning

Besides “breaking stuff”, what she enjoys the most about working in IT security is the constant learning journey and new ways of working thanks to the close collaboration with other security researchers and even the companies’ internal security teams. In Laura’s words: “At the end of the day, one task – regardless of its complexity – can always be solved in different ways and it’s always eye-opening and humbling to experience that.”

We asked Laura what it takes to work in this industry and she answered:

“Patience and eagerness to learn new things all the time are important skills that not everyone has mastered. That’s it, I’d say. Of course, it helps a lot if you like computers!”

She went on and explained that eagerness to learn new things all the time is crucial since the future of cybersecurity is uncertain and ever-changing. For example, she says: 

“The amount of data collected from users will keep increasing. Also, it seems that every electric device will become “smart”– a fancy word that stands for having Internet connectivity. Securing these devices and their backends will be a major undertaking, because these devices are already in use, but are very much lagging behind when it comes to security”.

There will always be a need for security researchers

Another exciting thing about this is that no matter how much the future of cybersecurity change, one thing is certain: there will always be a need for security researchers/ethical hackers to help companies and users to feel safer around their services and devices, and that is one of the reasons why Laura decided to join the Detectify family. 

“I want to fix the Internet,” she says, “and I think we’re a fun bunch of people doing great things together. I appreciate the flexibility, the challenges, and the atmosphere we’ve got going on. I believe that what we are doing will help shape both the future of cybersecurity and the ways ethical hackers (like Detectify Crowdsource) are seen.”  

Laura on automation: “automation serves us in two ways: it is basically a tool for making sure we clean out vulnerabilities before they even reach production, and on the other hand, it helps us to quickly act on when new vulnerabilities pop up or unnecessary attack surface is exposed, and fix it.”

Quick Q&A

Mac or PC? macOS – It’s Unix based.
Android or iOS? iOS
What’s your #1 security tip? Be curious and care about your privacy!
How do you keep up-to-date with tech and business? Twitter, Reddit – reading a lot overall!
What’s your favorite Detectify blog post? It must be some of the hostile subdomain takeover posts because those I remember reading even before I knew what Detectify was.

Detectify keeps growing by the day, which means that finding candidates who want to be part of driving change in a rapidly evolving cybersecurity space is our main priority. If you, like Laura, are excited about shaping the future of cybersecurity by “breaking stuff”, take a look at our open positions to join Laura in Stockholm! 


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