What did you want to be when you were little?
Zoo director, later astronaut.
When and how did you discover your interest in IT and/or cyber security?
I came to IT through video games, first consoles, and then PCs. When I had the PC, I naturally wanted to know how it all worked. That is where the computer science classes at the AHS high school (which was still a compulsory elective subject at the time) came in handy. After my civilian service, I had to decide on a course of study – at first I wanted to study physics (here again the motivation: how does it all work?), but I let myself be put off by the experiences of friends. Therefore, the only logical alternative was computer science. I only came across cyber security towards the end of my studies at the TU Vienna. Two young professors founded the iSecLab (https://iseclab.org/), which attracted students with interesting courses, participation in international CTF competitions and cutting-edge research topics. I was a member of iSecLab for several years, first as a diploma student, then as a PhD student, but I found that I was not so much interested in scientific work, but more in practical applications. So after some time without a PhD degree, I switched directly to IKARUS in the private sector.
How did you become a Senior Backend Developer? What training, knowledge or experience was particularly helpful?
Everything I learned during my time at iSecLab was definitely extremely helpful. The iSecLab and IKARUS had good contacts and collaborations for obvious reasons – that is how IKARUS came on my radar screen when I was looking for a job. Then, there was a bit of coincidence and luck involved: what I last dealt with at university was collecting, processing and storing large amounts of data. The tools I used for this were exactly what IKARUS needed at that time. What then kept me going at IKARUS was certainly the willingness to keep learning and to acquire new skills – and to never stop asking myself: How does this actually work?
Which (professional and human) skills are particularly important in your current job?
Professionally: always keep learning. Scientific work has taught me that you are never ‘done’ with learning and that there is always something new to come. But first you also need a broad and solid basis. During my studies, I learned a little bit about everything, from theoretical basics to hardware architecture, low-level and high-level programming languages and the complex systems that build on them. That helps to have as many perspectives on a problem as possible and thus to find the best approaches to solving it.
Human: Never take life and work too seriously–that inevitably leads to stress, burnout and all that entails. Recognise where you can remain stubborn and where you have to give in–this is the only way cooperation in a team is possible. Plan, but be flexible, because you often do not know what the future will bring.
What would you have liked to know about your profession earlier?
How many meetings I have to attend.
What do you like most and least about your job?
I like it best when I can learn something new through a task. Of course, my least favourite tasks are those that are purely manual and where I learn nothing. And how long some meetings take.
What is special about your role as Senior Backend Developer?
I oversee a wide range of different systems, projects and platforms, which provides variety and gives me the opportunity to expand my skills in many directions.
What do you think are good ways to get a foothold in the IT and/or cyber security industry?
I don’t know, because I’m long gone from the job market, but participating in CTFs and hacking competitions is a lot of fun and you learn a lot.
Why should someone apply to be your new colleague?
At IKARUS, there are tasks and positions that cover practically the entire range of IT: customer/technical support, operations, DevOps, software development in a wide variety of programming languages (high/low level) for many different platforms, development of distributed systems and cloud services, malware & vulnerability analysis and reverse engineering, big data warehousing & analysis, IT and OT security consulting & incident response, etc. There is something for everyone. But even more important is the friendly and relaxed atmosphere among all employees, which only a SME can offer, where everyone including the CEO is on a first-name basis.
Always up to date
Exciting and worth knowing news from the cybersecurity industry: IKARUS regularly informs about current analyses and outbreaks as well as news from the areas of IT, OT and IoT security. We also post on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook – just follow and be informed!