Ask the Expert: Adrian

CertiK | Jun 1, 2021

Ask the Expert: Adrian

Adrian is a self-confessed technology nerd and geek. From owning the Amiga 500 in his childhood, Adrian always loved computers and the potential of what you could do with them.

He developed his curiosity and hacker-mindset through playing video games and teaching himself how to hack or root devices he owned, from various game consoles through to iPods and smartphones (even before they were ‘smart’, too!).

Adrian’s journey into Blockchain started in 2016 where he worked on de-anonymizing Bitcoin transactions as part of the Innovation Exchange programme at BAE Systems. It started with Bitcoin but quickly he learned the true value of the Blockchain and the innovation Satoshi peddled way back in 2008.

Q: Why did you want to become a security engineer?

I always loved technology and wanted to learn how things work. I played a lot of video games and they were the gateway into the “cyber” world that I really enjoyed. I wanted to learn how to make games of my own and I started learning computer programming, that turned into learning how operating systems worked, installing my first linux onto a computer etc. It also helped that my Dad was a computer geek and since childhood I had access to different parts of the PC and we owned a good chunk of PC/gaming history.

In my teenage years I bought a Playstation Portable, the original model PSP-1000. It was the first device I wanted to hack and install homebrew software. I spent days learning how to do it by reading different tutorials, making sure I have all the tools needed. To this day I remember the rush of adrenaline when I succeeded. Since then I did a lot of experimenting on PSP, installing different softwares, modding system themes, bricking and unblocking the device. I knew all the intricacies of the PSP and I loved it. Similar story with all my android devices I owned.

I got interested in security because of those days, and the feeling I got when I finally hit a breakthrough in solving a problem. To me, all of that simply boiled down to solving a problem, I knew there was a solution somewhere I just needed to find it. Being a security engineer to me is always striving to find the solutions to such problems, but the end goal is to secure the system and that’s amazing.

Working in Blockchain and crypto has a very similar feeling of the times I was in the homebrew scene of PSP. Learning all the bits of Ethereum, how to break it and secure it is amazing and fascinating to me. Being able to help secure the new financial institutions and applications of the internet is something I would never dream of.

Q: What does your daily work routine look like?

* Going for a walk with a dog

* Brewing coffee

* Reading and responding to all communications with the team and the clients

* Reading the ETHSecurity channel for the newest security news from the crypto world. To me, it’s a never ending learning resource.

* Working on an Audit. Assessing the Solidity code and making sure it follows the best security standards and best practices.

* Scoping incoming projects for complexity and the time it will take to finish them.

* Discussing with the team about DeFi hacks and suspicious parts of the code.

Q: What are some of your challenges and accomplishments?

One of my accomplishments that I remember as if it was today was the moment I successfully installed homebrew on my PSP. It was such an excitement and a relief I didn’t know if I bricked my new console! From there I experimented a lot and learned a lot. In Poland PSP was quite popular and many people in my area had one. I was the go-to guy when something was wrong with their PSP, or they wanted more control over their console, so I helped them install custom software. It was also the first time I earned some money from doing technical work.

My biggest challenge was to persuade senior management of the company I worked for that it is a great idea to invest in a project that will help with de-anonymization of Bitcoin transactions. Knowledge about Bitcoin and Blockchain was scarce, and my idea started a bunch of workshops which I attended to help people understand what and how Bitcoin and Blockchain worked. This spewed more excitement and more understanding within the company which, in fact, led to my project finally being accepted. This was the time when, during preparation for such workshops, I read a ton of articles and books which led to my understanding that Bitcoin is only the first generation of a Blockchain app and much more can be accomplished with this technology. That challenge started my whole crypto career.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

Almost a month ago I started the 100 Days of Blogging challenge and I write daily about Blockchain technology, security state of the Ethereum ecosystem, analyse different hacks, and talk about work. All can be found on adrianhetman.com.

I love spending time with my wife, watching movies, walking around our town with our dog and recently going to restaurants again as some restrictions started to be lifted.

Apart from that. I also take time to stay up to date with current Ethereum issues, what’s coming next, how that will affect the current codebase, and analysing hacks that have happened. All of that helps me stay up-to-date with the ever changing industry.