Human Resources

Typical 24: Johnathan Kuskos, WhiteHat Security

Johnathan Kuskos

  Job title: Threat Research Centre Manager

  Company: WhiteHat Security

  Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland



1.       What time do you reach the office each day?
Sometimes 7am, more comfortably around 9am. I often have meetings stretching into 7 or even 8pm in the evenings since that’s when my US counterparts are normally available. I learned early that it’s important to balance a healthy work/life balance to manage stress and commitments. 


2.       Is your job varied?
Absolutely. Helping launch a new remote international office, for the last 9 months I’ve been all of the following roles to a moderate degree simultaneously: Manager, Engineer, Trainer, IT Support, HR, and it’s probably a stretch but for laughs I’m probably my own administrative assistant as well, hah!

3.       Is your job creative?
Yes in a sense that it’s extremely dynamic. I’m thankful to have the freedoms to solve problems as I see best fit, which really allows me to exercise a plethora of best-case scenarios for any given conflict. The alternative would be waiting for my superiors in the US to come online which isn’t a scalable solution to anything. If I can handle an issue myself, it’s best to just get it done to the best of my abilities so long as I’m extremely confident that the right decision is being made, and can stand by that choice.

4.       What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
It varies day by day. Some days the majority of my time is spent teaching various pro-tips on hacking methodologies. On others, it’s spent evaluating furniture vendors for our new office move. Often I must drop whatever I’m doing to solve whatever on-the-spot issue has arisen and that can be anything involving training, professional development, research, media quotes for the latest “company X was hacked” headline, or planning an office outing to keep everyone in good spirits.

5.       Do you personalise your desk?
To my left is a Nerf N-Strike Elite Roughcut 2x4 shotgun, and the walls surrounding my desk have both Samus from Super Metroid and Raiden from Metal Gear Rising posters. 

6.       Would you describe yourself as creative?
Very much so!

7.       Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
I think the only consistent ritual is a sleepy lunge for the first cup of coffee, and then a much more relaxed lunge for the second =)

8.       Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
Both. I enjoy teamwork because I love seeing how another mind would attack a problem. Consequently, I’m passionate about teaching, so when I have a good solution I’m usually overexcited to share.

9.       How many hours on average do you work a day?
9 to 11

10.   Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
I have to stay on top of email all day, I often come in to about 50 unread messages on a regular weekday. If I leave for a week on vacation, a full 8 hours is needed to sort through older emails and prioritise follow-ups. Meetings probably account for 3 hours of most days. 

11.   Do you use social media much for work?
I created a twitter account for the sole purpose of interacting with other AppSec/InfoSec professionals, but soon realised that was quite boring. Treating it as an actual personal account that just happens to be ecstatic about security has made me much more approachable and I enjoy reaching out to people more because of it. You can find me on twitter at @JohnathanKuskos

12.   What do you enjoy most about your work?
The thing I enjoy the most is seeing my colleagues and friends grow into upstanding professionals. Most of us are starting our careers quite young and for many it’s their first real career here at WhiteHat, mine included. When I think of where we started with what we knew then to what we know now, the difference is simply astronomical.  

13.   What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
Rock, definitely staying true to my southern Texas roots. We’ve got a great rock community and culture.

14.   What do you do for lunch?
Lunch? What is that? J

15.   Do you socialise with work colleagues?
My closest friends are colleagues. In this job you see what makes people thrive, and what stresses them to their absolute mental limits. 

16.   Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
Not quite, I’m still working on that =)

17.   What is your last task of your day?
One quick skim around the office to see who’s left, who’s working late, and who’s doing that little bit extra.

18.   How do you like to relax after work?
Cycling or Olympic lifting.

19.   Do you keep checking email through the evening?
Yes, to a fault. It makes the next day much more manageable though.

20.   Do you take work projects home with you?
Definitely, but it’s a necessity sometimes in order to deliver a quality product.

21.   What would you say to your 20-year old self?
Don’t sell yourself short and be confident, because everyone else is making it up as they go along. Do the best that you can with no reservations and be proud of it!

22.   If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
Tracking criminals by their internet footprints to physical locations.

23.   What device did you use to answer these questions?
MacBook Pro.

24.   Do you use your own personal device for work?
If it’s the better tool for the job, then yes.


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