Take the challenge! Think like a hacker in 30 days Take the challenge! Think like a hacker in 30 days
How safe are you and your assets? Learn how to think securely by joining our first 30 day cybersecurity challenge launching April 26.

Charles Blas is an original co-founder of Hacker Lab and cybersecurity professional. He remembers  the days before password managers, when you had to get really creative to come up with secure, memorable passwords — including using a Rubik's Cube.

"But now we have many viable password managers to choose from," Blas said. "Today, if you’re doing it right, you shouldn’t even know your Gmail password, but you can get it when you need it with the press of a button."

The technologist, tinkerer and cybersecurity practitioner is helping launch Hacker Lab's first cybersecurity challenge through a series of workshops featuring Shannon Morse's 30 Day Cybersecurity Challenge. We'll host interactive Q&A sessions throughout the challenge participants can discuss the course in.

Take the 30-day cybersecurity challenge! RSVP for tickets to our April 26 kick-off event to learn more.

Blas has been in the Sacramento region since the 90’s, helping companies to improve their security posture while teaching classes in cybersecurity and hacking. He saw a widening skills gap and is working to create a new pipeline of hacker-types to be ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

"Generally this is for people who have questions. You might know that using the same password across all websites is bad; this class will explain why it’s bad and give you alternatives that are practical and actionable."

Over the course of the 30-day challenge (view full syllabus here), we will explore:
● General best practices around device (computer, phone, wifi router, IoT, etc...) security;
● Basics of encryption and authentication;
● Wireless protocols (e.g. Bluetooth, wifi, NFC);
● Anti-virus, anti-malware software;
● Browser security;
● Privacy controls;
● Social accounts and maintenance;
● Smartphone apps;
● Computer backups;
● Cloud services;
● Two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA);
● Virtual Private Network (VPN);
● Passwords and password managers;
● Single sign-on technologies;
● Spear-Phishing;
● Social engineering;
● Credit card security;
● Public databases;

Take the 30-day cybersecurity challenge! RSVP for tickets to our April 26 kick-off event to learn more.

* * *

Hacker Lab: How did this all get started? What's the challenge about?

Blas: The goal was to come up with something to help people become familiar with basic cybersecurity concepts. This 30-day program by Shannon Morse is one of the best primers for understanding the risks associated with technology and what to do about it.

In the past, I got a lot of questions about how to configure wifi securely, what password manager to use, or which VPN providers care about privacy — oftentimes I send them to this program and then follow-up with them to answer questions.

That’s how this course is modelled.  We expect people to actually take the challenge and use our sessions together to ask questions about their particular scenario.

Hacker Lab: What is the program format and what will be covered?

Blas: Shannon Morris from Hak5 created this program to give people a 50,000-feet up view of cybersecurity essentials, walking you through examples from how to setup your home WiFi to adjusting privacy on browser and web apps, how to use VPNS, why you should use a password manager  — and securing computer at home — it's a whirlwind tour of all your devices from personal devices to online presence.

This class is meant to be a big Q&A session for people taking the challenge. In these courses we’re going to cover all the topics in weekly checkpoints. We’ll have a kick off, then go week by week, sharing content, doing the work, and bringing questions to the next session.  There is also a Discord channel so people can ask questions between sessions.

Because there are a few topics worth going through in further detail (like configuring a VPN or securing your Wi-Fi at home), we’ll have special sessions where we walk through the process, step-by-step, so people can follow along in real time.

Hacker Lab: Who is the challenge for?

Blas: Anyone who has a computer and interacts with the internet. Basically, if you have a Gmail account or browse the internet, you are the audience.

Generally it’s for people who have questions. They might know that using the same password across all websites is bad, but this class will explain why it’s bad and give you alternatives that are practical and actionable rather than just preaching the bad.

Typically we’ll give two or three secure options and help you figure out what works best for your scenario.

Hacker Lab: Who is vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks?

Blas: Anyone who interacts with the Internet may be susceptible to cybersecurity attacks and should take basic steps to preserve their privacy and security online.

This course may also be suitable for people that perform IT support for small businesses.  They may use consumer-grade technology like Linksys routers so the same concepts would apply.

Thinking securely or having basic ‘cybersecurity hygiene’, starts when you’re asked to set up an account online.  You may start off strong and have different passwords for the first few sites, but, as you set up more accounts, you will find that it’s not possible to remember 50 different passwords. This course will teach you that you only need to remember one good password…once you adopt a password manager and start using it.

Hacker Lab: How has cybersecurity education changed over the years?

Blas: Cybersecurity education has definitely changed over the years.  Best practices evolve with new products and technologies.  There was always an academic basis, but sometimes there weren’t good answers or solutions.

In this course, we will talk about vetted solutions and industry best practices that should be workable for whatever your situation is, while also providing emotional support because it is a lot of work.

It will be on individual participants to take on the challenge, but if they’re willing to put in the time, we’ll support them!

Hacker Lab: Anything else you want to add?

Blas: It's free for Hacker Lab members and ISSA members.  If people like the format, we'll consider doing it again for October Cybersecurity awareness month.

If people are thinking about a career in cybersecurity, it’s important to learn good security hygiene now.  And good security hygiene starts with small changes and consistency.  The most important step is getting started.

Take the 30-day cybersecurity challenge with a kickoff on Monday, April 26! RSVP for tickets to learn more.

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