Jean-Georges Valle is the author of Practical Hardware Pentesting, we got the chance to sit down with him and find out more about his experience of writing with Packt.
Q: What is/are your specialist tech area(s)?
Jean-Georges: Embedded and hardware security
Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?
Jean-Georges: I was presented with the opportunity, a friend was looking to have his book published and Packt’s was looking for someone to write a book on hardware security. Since I was working on hardware security and also making badges for a security conference, He thought about me. For me writing this book was a way to give a leg up to people on hardware security since it is usually something where you have to comb through a lot of information (both security and non security oriented) on your own to start with it.
Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?
Jean-Georges: I research hardware security in my free time and also partially during my work hours.
Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?
Jean-Georges: Well actually yes, i went through some very bad moments in my personal life and the corona virus pandemics. Keeping focused wasn’t always very easy.
Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?
Jean-Georges: It is not simple. The hardware field is democratising rapidly through the rebirth of electronics as a hobby and IoT. Hardware security field is both very old in some industries (media access control, gambling, etc) and very new in IoT. The culture will have to evolve just like IT security culture evolved. And the more people are putting their noses where they are not supposed to, the faster it will evolve.
Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?
Jean-Georges: I oriented this book towards people with a limited budget, all hardware used is available on websites for very very cheap. I did the same with software, everything is open source and completely free. My goal was to give a complete hardware and software toolkit that the reader can both actually use in his or her professional tests but also in his or her own free time for all the people that like to learn on their own and make things.
Q. What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away from the book with?
Jean-Georges: There are multiple takeaways I want the readers to get.
First : Making hardware is hard. Breaking hardware… not so much.
With that I mean that with personal investment and simple tools it is very possible for anyone to attack hardware and learn valuable things and skills but also reuse and recycle hardware.
What I really want the readers to take away is that you can start with super cheap hardware and open source software, the hardware is not what makes the hacker.
Second : The embedded market’s security maturity (outside of some very specific, security oriented product) is quite low, not only it makes possible to find very funny things for anyone but also that everyone capable to look for problem in this context is actually pushing the market’s maturity forward and, in the end, since the technology is more and more embedded in everyone’s lives, it is for the greater good.
Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?
Jean-Georges: Do not be afraid to break things. When you break something you learn, when it works right on the first time you are just a normal user. It’s when you learn to fix things that you understand how they really work.
Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?
Q. Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?
Jean-Georges: Hackaday, EEVBlog, The AmpHour, Shahriar Shahramian’s Signal Path, embedded.fm there is a lot
Q. How would you describe your author journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?
Jean-Georges: Due to multiple circumstances (packt reorganisation of last year, multiple TRs and Packt’s liaison vanishing or leaving packt), the coronavirus pandemic… I don’t think that I have a representative “author” journey, my road was pretty rocky and “rock’n roll”…
Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?
Jean-Georges: Brussel’s hackerspace, PwC’s European security excellence center, this kind of groups
Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?
Jean-Georges: Hackaday, MISC and GNU Linux Magazine France (in French “bien sur”)
Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?
Jean-Georges: I am a very bad exemple… I had almost no organisation, my work and personal life were always colliding with the book activities… I also had to fight a lot against writing the book becoming boring and I had to focus on the fact that the technical sides were what I like to do most.
Q. What is that one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?
Jean-Georges: Forget that you are writing a book, focus on the fact that you are liking what the book is teaching and things will be easier. Also try to get rid of your assumptions about what is clear and what is not.
You can find Jean-Georges’ book on Amazon by following this link: Please click here