Hi, everyone! I’m Adam Fernandez, and it’s my turn to introduce myself as part of the Raxis Meet the Team series. So, I spoke to our marketing specialist, and we talked about my how I came to be a security professional. (As it turns out, I started down that path early in life). I certainly enjoy working with this team and, if you think you might also, read on and then check out our careers page or subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Jim: Adam, you’ve done a lot penetration tests, but your title is Lead Developer. What’s going on there?
Adam: I started out at Raxis as a penetration tester when I joined the company in 2017, but I also enjoy developing software, testing devices, and taking apart and building new ones. One of the great things about working for Raxis is that our leaders understand how those skills complement each other, and I have a lot of flexibility to work on new and advanced projects in addition to helping with pentesting engagements.
Jim: As I understand it, you came to Raxis from an entirely different career field, right?
Adam: That’s right. I actually studied stage management and lighting design at Kennesaw State University. In fact, theater was the focus of much of my time at Woodstock High School in Woodstock, GA as well as in college.
I started out as a stagehand, moving a ladder on and off stage. But I really wanted to work with sound and lighting, so I started learning as much as I could about that through YouTube videos, the Internet, and books my mom bought for me. I also sought out internships in Seattle, where I lived in the summers, and worked on the production of Sweeney Todd at SecondStory Reparatory Theater.
Jim: Did that help spur your interest in development?
Adam: In a way. As I transitioned into stage management, I knew that the sound and lighting people needed a better system for taking their cues, and my high school couldn’t afford an expensive solution. I really believed that was something I could figure out. So, I built a device to let them know what they were supposed to be doing when. Then I sold it to the school for $350.
Jim: That’s pretty amazing for a student, but you didn’t stop there, right?
Adam: No, I also wanted the theater department to have its own website to manage membership dues and ticket sales, so I created the whole thing from scratch. It was the ugliest site ever, but the school paid me $500 per year to manage it.
Jim: Sounds like you were a bit of an entrepreneur as well.
Adam: Well, I did create my first company at KSU. I developed software that would automate the audition process with searchable applications and headshots. The school paid me to manage events, but there was a rule that prevented them from paying students directly, so I had to create a company to make it all legit.
Jim: So, how did you move from doing events at KSU to penetration testing?
Adam: Well, I was also a student assistant at KSU for the Facilities Manager, Brad Herring, who ended up leaving KSU to go to work with Raxis and is now VP of Business Development. After he’d been here a while, he told me, “I think you’d be really good at pentesting, and I want you to talk to our CEO.” Brad’s always been a mentor to me and one of my best friends, so I took his advice and had lunch with him and (Raxis CEO) Mark Puckett. Before I knew it, I was working in a fascinating new field that I loved.
Jim: What is it about cybersecurity that’s interesting to you? How did you make that leap?
Adam: Looking back on it, security really wasn’t a leap at all. I remember as a small child, having an intense interest in padlocks and how they worked. I asked for a safe for Christmas one year. Then, it was spy gadgets, alarms, and games. My stepdad was a software developer, and, at a very young age, he helped me make a program that required you to enter a certain color sequence to unlock the app.
Now, I’m intrigued by using software to control things in the real world, which is why I love the IoT and figuring out how various devices work. In fact, I have an electronic access keycard system at my house. It’s antiquated, but I bought it in part so that I could reverse engineer it and learn how it works.
Jim: Do you get to work with devices at Raxis?
Adam: Yes, we have our Transporter that we use to do remote pentesting, and we recently bought the Boscloner company. That’s a very advanced badge-cloning device. Of course, with more and more devices online, IoT security is becoming a lot more important every day.
Jim: What’s your favorite part about working with Raxis?
Adam: I love having the ability to introduce new ideas and not only have them heard but also make them a reality. And Raxis just feels like family. Theatre was like that too, but this feels way more genuine.