From the PDP-11 to Cybersecurity: A Life Shaped by Computers

My name is Chris Blue, I’m the Chief Information Security Officer at Purrfectly Protected, we love cats and we love computers. This is my story….

I entered high school at a time when computers were slowly starting to revolutionize society. My first glimpse into this captivating world came at age 16 when my father, a dedicated telecommunications employee, introduced me to the wonders of the PDP-111. His notion of spending quality time with me involved taking me to his workplace at the phone company, where he would sit me in front of a computer before resuming his work duties. When other kids focused on dating and driving, I found solace in the luminous glow of the computer screen. With my father’s busy schedule, I spent countless hours exploring the realms of technology, fascinated by the boundless potential hidden within the machine.

As time went by, I witnessed the birth of the internet, back when it was known as the ARPANET2. Armed with insatiable curiosity, I delved into this interconnected world, eager to uncover its secrets. While my peers were unaware of its existence, I was already navigating the digital landscape, charting new territories and forging connections that spanned the globe. It was during this time that my friendship with computers began to blossom, becoming my constant companion and an unwavering source of support.

In the tumultuous and rebellious era of the ’80s, I braved the uncharted waters of the digital realm, I took on the formidable task of running a pirate BBS, an underground Bulletin Board System that thrived on the free exchange of information, hacking exploits, and the unyielding pursuit of digital freedom.

With audacity as my guiding principle, I nurtured a clandestine community that attracted hackers, rebels, and enthusiasts who sought an alternative to the restrictive confines of the mainstream. Within the virtual walls of my pirate BBS, an ecosystem of like-minded individuals flourished, united by a shared passion for subverting authority and championing information emancipation.

Fueling this subversive movement was my unwavering dedication to creating an environment where knowledge and ideas flowed freely. I actively encouraged discussions on topics deemed taboo or forbidden, facilitating the exchange of hacking techniques, bypassing security measures, and unraveling the mysteries of the digital world. In doing so, I challenged the established norms, pushing the boundaries of what was considered possible and acceptable.

Beyond merely fostering a community of hackers, I also became an advocate for information freedom. I passionately fought against the notion that knowledge should be confined to the privileged few, firmly believing that unrestricted access to information could empower individuals and lead to unprecedented technological advancements. My pirate BBS served as a symbol of resistance against the gatekeepers of knowledge, inspiring others to question authority and seek alternative paths in the pursuit of truth.

Running a pirate BBS in the rebellious ’80s had unforeseen consequences for me . As I delved deeper into the hidden corners of the digital realm, a realization began to take shape—a profound understanding of the vulnerability that plagued the emerging internet. This began my transformation from a Black Hat hacker to a White Hat champion of cybersecurity.

Through my experiences as an underground figure, I gained unparalleled insight into the fragility of the internet. Witnessing firsthand the havoc that unauthorized access and malicious actions could wreak upon individuals and organizations, a sense of responsibility took root within me. I saw the potential for devastation, but also the opportunity to be a force for good.

Motivated by a newfound awareness, I chose to redirect my skills and expertise towards protecting the very infrastructure I once challenged. This shift in perspective marked the turning point in my journey, as I transitioned from a Black Hat hacker—a rebel fueled by curiosity and defiance—to a White Hat hacker—an advocate for digital security and the safeguarding of information.

I immersed myself in the world of ethical hacking, tirelessly learning and mastering techniques to identify vulnerabilities, and working alongside organizations to fortify their digital defenses. My commitment to knowledge and skill became the bedrock of my transformation, paving the way for a brighter future.

Driven by a burning desire to make a positive impact, I dedicated my time and energy to serving as a guardian of the internet. I actively sought out vulnerabilities, conducting ethical hacking assessments and penetration testing to expose weaknesses before malicious actors could exploit them.

Recognizing the importance of proactive measures in securing the internet, I became a passionate advocate for cybersecurity. I have used my knowledge and experience to educate others, raising awareness about the risks and empowering individuals and organizations to take action. My mission is to demystify the world of hacking and emphasize the significance of digital security.

My life has been an extraordinary journey, from my early encounters with the PDP-11, running a pirate BBS, to my transformation to a White Hat hacker. I have witnessed the vulnerability of the internet and embarked on a path of redemption, using my skills and knowledge to defend against cyber threats. My transformation from a Black Hat to a White Hat hacker stands as a testament to the power of self-reflection and personal growth. My journey can serve as a powerful reminder that even in the depths of darkness, there is always the potential for redemption and positive change.

1The PDP-11 computer, developed by Digital Equipment Corporation in the 1970s, was a versatile and widely used minicomputer. With its compact design, flexible architecture, and support for various programming languages, it found applications in industries like aerospace and research. Offering a range of input/output options and hosting diverse software, the PDP-11 left an enduring impact on computing. Its legacy lives on through its architectural influence on subsequent systems, making it a significant milestone in the history of computer technology.

2The ARPANET, developed by the U.S. Department of Defense in the late 1960s, was a pioneering computer network that laid the groundwork for the modern internet. Using packet-switching technology and a decentralized architecture, it connected research institutions and universities, facilitating collaboration and information sharing. The ARPANET played a vital role in developing key internet protocols, such as TCP/IP, and introduced concepts like email and remote access. Its legacy includes shaping the global internet we rely on today, revolutionizing communication and connecting people and devices worldwide.