Tech goals for 2015

In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable. - President Dwight Eisenhower

As I noted last time, having a specific set of goals in mind helps me focus my efforts during the year. For my goals this year, I’ve categorized them a bit. I always try to remember in goal-setting that the focus matters more than the specific goals. If an excellent research or activism opportunity presents itself during the year, I won’t decline it simply because it doesn’t fit with my pre-existing notions for the year.


  1. Matasano crypto challenges: Same as last year, but this time for real. Really. In terms of personal development (not necessarily accomplishments), improving my skills and understanding around cryptography occupies the highest rank.
  2. Project Euler: While this has helped me some with coding, my motivation in this goal really comes from the subject itself. Mathematics has always been my first and primary love academically. While I made some poor life choices earlier in life and didn’t pursue my studies any further than completing an undergraduate degree, self-directed learning is all the rage now. (Some might say it always has been.)
  3. Abstract Algebra book: Related to the cryptography and mathematics goals, I recently purchased a copy of A Book of Abstract Algebra: Second Edition. So this year I want to read this book and complete, minimally, the exercises with answers I can verify. This goal ranks lower than the other two.


  1. Hunting Camp: My good friend Scott Roberts and I will present at the SANS CTI Summit. Our presentation includes the release of a “hunting camp” (name pending) of Docker files for a sort of “threat intel platform in a box”. I’ll complete this release by then, though we expect this to involve ongoing development.
  2. Braconid: I have a backburner project that I want to complete and publish. Braconid focuses on retrieving OSINT regarding IP addresses and domain names from queryable data sources as sort of a companion to Combine.

Outreach / activism

  1. Conferences: While I intend to scale this back somewhat, this goal remains important for me. I would like to present at a minimum of four professional conferences this year. The SANS CTI and DFIR Summits already have accepted me and comprise half of these. I hope for Black Hat USA as a third. The fourth remains to be determined, plus a “replacement” for Black Hat if not accepted.
  2. Local volunteerism: For personal reasons, I am not yet ready to say much publicly about this. But I have volunteered with some local organizations to help with specific information security issues. This activism and volunteering will have impacts in ways that complaining about national surveillance and the like never can. Unlike the other goals, this one doesn’t have a specific metric associated with it purely because I can’t figure out how to measure it.