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A Day in the Life of Optiv Cyber Security Superheroes: Pete Arzamendi
Pete Arzamendi, Research Scientist, Research and Development
Whether it’s cyber security or his passion for Jiu-Jitsu, Pete Arzamendi enjoys the art of combat and the constant search for attacks throughout the threat spectrum. As a kid, Pete loved watching movies like “Sneakers” and “War Games,” and always hoped to plug into something equally as exciting in his future. Fast forward twenty years, this quest has landed him in the roles of research scientist at Optiv and industry expert in today’s exciting areas of embedded devices, Internet of Things (IoT), and product and service security. Every day, Pete and the applied research team are on the front line for their clients taking aim at fast-moving targets and identifying specific, meaningful risks, much like the characters from his favorite cybercrime movies.
Pete’s role is unique; he works on the defensive and offensive sides of security. On the defensive end, Pete and his teammates locate flaws in code to improve security. On the attack side, they identify paths vulnerable to exploitation and then exploit those weaknesses—before malicious actors can. Pete notes, “I not only get to investigate the software and pull that apart, but I also hack the hardware.” Of his team he says, “There are aspects that I’m learning constantly from the guys on the team.” He adds, “If you get stuck in a situation, you can always ask questions—they’re willing to go out of their way to help you understand what’s going on in the background.”
Staying on the forefront of the industry, Pete is a frequent guest at many information security conferences such as ShmooCon, Hack in Paris and Black Hat, where he presents tips and techniques on different open-source tools. Recently, he shared updates on SERPICO, a popular pen report writing tool, with attendees at the Black Hat Arsenal. Lately, he’s really interested in topics like vulnerability discovery, fuzzing, exploitation techniques, malware analysis and protocol analysis; and he aims to achieve mastery of these subjects through personal study, reading and research. Another way he improves his defensive capability is through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Pete draws parallels between this martial art form and cyber security, saying it helps keep his mind focused, and his combative and defensive skills sharp.
What Pete loves about his work at Optiv is that his interest is kept alive every day. “It’s the constant curiosity, just wanting to know how it works, to be able to break it down to the smallest component, and understand the differences between how function A works with function B.” After he “breaks” things, he works with his clients to help them understand how it was broken, and what to do to make it more secured and locked down. Pete’s passion for cyber defense does not go unnoticed by his clients, and they rely on his expert counsel. “When they have questions about security, they’ll come to me and say, hey Pete, we’re thinking about doing this, and what do you think?” He feels gratification from these conversations and it confirms for him that he is their trusted advisor.
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