Your Resident McAfee Engineer on Cybersecurity, AI, and Career Growth
Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.
Hey Hackers! I'm Rohit Mathew and I'm the Software Development Engineer at McAfee Enterprise.
First of all, a huge thank you to the HackerNoon community and staff for nominating me for a 2021 Noonies award! I've been nominated in the following categories please do check out these award pages and vote:
- HackerNoon Contributor of the Year - authentication
- HackerNoon Contributor of the Year - covid-19
- HackerNoon Contributor of the Year - remote-teams
- HackerNoon Contributor of the Year - remote-work
Post the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a significant shift towards remote work and cloud-based workflows. However, the task is to make sure they are well secured. We have seen multiple attacks like Colonial Pipeline, data breaches, and many more threats that have increased since the pandemic started. Cybersecurity as a whole has risen in importance and as someone in the software development and cybersecurity industry, I believe that advancements in this area are very exciting.
While my interests currently lie in the development of scalable solutions, DevOps, Developer Relations/Dev Evangelism as well as smart AI-based systems, I'm excited by almost anything in tech. Learn more about my thoughts and opinions as well as my journey in the tech industry via the interview below.
1. What do you do and why do you do it? (tell us your story)
I work at McAfee Enterprise as an SDE on their platform engineering team working on building SecOps products. I'm also an Auth0 Ambassador working on sharing knowledge, tips, and best practices on topics relating to identity, security, and authentication.
There are no secrets to my inspiration. It's just that I love what I do. The challenging and gratifying feeling you get when you see people use a product you helped build and something that brings value to their lives is what keeps me going. I also enjoy giving back to the community and hence I write articles and try sharing my knowledge as much as possible.
2. Tell us more about the things you create / write / manage / build!
At McAfee Enterprise, I work on building SecOps products and products to help enterprises better secure themselves. Outside my work at McAfee, I also spend time on a few personal projects that can be found on my Github. A few projects I've worked on in the past few years I'm proud to include are:
- readme.so: It is an online editor to help developers make readmes for their project.
- Templater: A GitHub App built with Probot that requests more info from newly opened Pull Requests and Issues that contain either default titles, whose description is left blank, or templates not followed.
- Vaccine Notifier: Slack Notifier for India's Vaccine Appointment. This checks the Co-WIN portal periodically to find vaccination slots available in the provided pin codes and for your age.
- Slack Jenkins Bot: It is a chatbot built on the Hubot framework to trigger Jenkins jobs and post status updates back to slack.
And last but not least, my blog that contains random bits and pieces of tech that I find interesting. I don't really have a set rule for what I write about. I usually get really curious about something and then go about finding out more about it, and once I've learned a bit about it, the ultimate test that I understand is whether I can explain it to someone simply enough for them to learn about it without any prior subject experience. This is where my writing comes in.
Outside of work you will find me generally creating a lot of music playlists. These can be found on my Spotify Profile. I also actively play Fantasy Premier League and managed to get a top 200k finish last year.
3. How did you end up on your current career path? Do you like it?
Since I was a child I have always been fascinated with puzzles & logical problems. I started programming in primary school with simple LOGO programs and then slowly went on to C, C++, and Java. I was also extremely interested in Technology and the advancements happening in it.
Thus I decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in Computer Science. During this time I went about pursuing internships as I am a staunch believer in understanding things both technically and practically. I managed to pursue 7 internships during that time. I started off with Android Development and worked on building multiple apps with friends in college as well as for companies. We even managed to participate in multiple hackathons and ended up coming Second in the Student Category in Save the Hacker conducted by Freshworks.
My final internship was at HackerRank. That internship helped shape a lot of things for me about technology, development, culture, what I like and dislike, etc. I worked as a full-stack engineer and that exposed me to engineering at scale. I was completely intrigued by this and it played into my childhood fascinations for puzzles and logical problems. This put me on a journey to become better at building products at scale which provide value to users.
After graduating I ended up joining a small Insuretech startup called Turtlemint. When I joined they were a small Series A funded startup with about 20,000 insurance agents on their network. Over the time I worked there the company grew 50x to 1 million + insurance agents and a growing SaaS business. Along with them, I grew massively. I was exploring things, building from scratch, and gaining so much real-world experience.
During my time there I was also exploring Developer Relations and joined the Auth0 Ambassador Program. This program gave me a platform to explore how I could give back to the community and share my knowledge better. It also exposed me to a lot of interesting new things in the domain of Cybersecurity.
Finally, here I am at McAfee Enterprise. With the onset of the pandemic and the uptick in cyberattacks, I felt that this would be a great sector to get into. Not only do I get to work on building products that help secure some of our everyday activities but general mass awareness about cybersecurity and privacy-related topics are very few. I wanted to thus also help people understand the need for it and share my knowledge about such practices.
Like Naval said in his iconic Twitter thread, How to get rich ( without getting lucky) - Specific knowledge is found by pursuing your genuine curiosity and passion rather than whatever is hot right now. I have pivoted many times in my short span of pursuing software development but I have learned a lot and believe I am going in the right direction.
4. What tech are you most excited or passionate about right now and why?
- Cybersecurity & Privacy
Being someone who is very conscious of his security and privacy, I do try to keep my eyes open for new advancements in that area. Crypto has been such a buzz for a while now and I have been making small inroads exploring it.
5. What tech are you most worried about right now and why?
- Cybersecurity & Privacy
I know both sound very cliche but with things becoming remote and online there is a growing risk of cyberattacks like Colonial Pipeline which could have major impacts on society as a whole. AI is another worry because technology can be used to improve or destroy peoples' lives, so the main problem here is how we will use it?
We have seen examples from the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the Facebook whistleblower story on misinformation, and even mental health problems which lead to the question of how both AI as well Cybersecurity & Privacy related issues if not properly regulated can see capitalistic companies and nation-states cause havoc.
6. If we gave you 10 million dollars to invest in something today, what would you invest in and why?
Considering this as a situation where I personally don't get the money but can decide on how I allocate the money I would focus on:
- Education - Coming from a country like India where rural infrastructure is not at par with developed countries, delivering education with access to the internet is difficult. I currently donate a lot toward this effort and would allocate money to upskilling the rural community and giving them access to technology and the internet.
- Climate Change - Climate change and the effects it's having on the Earth are very clearly seen around us. It's a cause I truly believe in and do my bit monetarily now as well, to save the environment. Hence this is another effort I would support.
- Startups - Having worked in multiple startups and seeing them disrupt multiple ecosystems I would allocate money to any interesting startup I find and would love to help them grow and scale.
7. What are you currently learning?
I generally learn about whatever makes me curious. Work-wise I am currently learning a few of these things:
- DevOps Practices
- System Design & Architecture
I am also working on:
- Improving my marketing & social media outreach
- Converting some of my articles into talks
- I believe the world works in systems (systems thinking). I am hence always working on improving my current understanding of this
- Trying to implement some of Naval's wisdom in my life
Other than these I am always reading up on things I have mentioned before.
8. What's the best advice you've ever given someone?
Don't think about it, just start doing it. The more you think about it, the more reasons you'll give yourself to not do it.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received?
- How to get rich ( without getting lucky) - Naval Ravikant
- The Best Advice You've Ever Received - Sahil Bloom
- How to Make Smart Decisions Without Getting Lucky - Shane Parrish
- Self Improvement - Shane Parrish
- Systems design explains the world - Avery Pennarun
- The Product-Minded Software Engineer - Gergely Orosz
- Get your work recognized: write a brag document - Julia Evans
Thanks for reading!
About HackerNoon's 2021 Noonie Awards
The annual Noonie Awards celebrate the best and brightest of the tech industry, bringing together all who are making the Internet and the world of tech what it is today. Please be sure to check out our award categories, nominate, and vote for the people and companies who you think are making the biggest impact on the tech industry today.