Blog 2: The stops before CyberSecurity

I would describe myself as a curious and enthusiastic learner. Not as curious so as to kill the “cat”, but enough to have some knowledgeable opinions about topics under the Sun.

A peek inside my mind! (Image credits:https://www.jaxtr.com/best-whiteboard-in-india/)
A peek inside my mind! (Image credits: https://www.jaxtr.com/best-whiteboard-in-india/)

I chose my field as CyberSec, starting my work to be a Pentester & Red Teamer in as late as my third year of B.Tech Undergraduate, a choice that most people make before or within their second year. Given the fact that I also spent half of my first year and the total of my second year at home (due to the COVID outbreak) instead of being surrounded by like-minded and aspiring engineers, I juggled around the commonly treaded paths, unsure of what to do next.

Cryptography and Network Security” by Forouzan & Mukhopadhyay

One of the first things I tried when I got home in second semester was to get a good hold on the mathematics required for cryptography. I had brought “Cryptography and Network Security” by Forouzan & Mukhopadhyay from my college library, and read up about the workings, ideologies and history of various symmetric-key ciphers (Caesar, Vignere and Kasiski test, Railfence, DES, AES). I also learnt about congruence and number theory, groups and fields and rings.

Since it was too theoretical, I moved on for some time to a field that is promising and well-rewarded -WebDev. I started working on HTML5 & CSS3, reading and applying the knowledge meticulously from HTML & CSS” by Jon Duckett. I did some good progress in a month, having learnt to create static and responsive webpages. I also worked on a few online assignments for practice, being helped by my best friend Meghna Dutta (meet her on LinkedIn || find her projects on GitHub). As I was learning JavaScript from Jon Duckett’s books, I felt that I don’t relate to pursuing it as a profession. I took a step back and started re-evaluating my options, all the same time working on HackerRank (@ atrik1978 ) to advance my Problem Solving and DSA skills. I would continue this in bits and parts throughout the time, moving on to a more challenging platform — LeetCode (@ ARJUNA32767).

I reverted back to Cryptography, trying to solve the Cryptopals Challenges. The second year of college started in online mode, filled with the uncertainty of the COVID times. The college pressure increased, and bogged down by some personal issues, I had to take a slack of about one to two months. In the meantime, I discussed with a college senior, and he made me aware of the risks of choosing the untreaded path for beginners in CyberSec. I would get better support in WebDev, Machine Learning and AppDev from my peers and seniors, he pointed out.

I saw the truth in his advice, and enrolled in Coursera’s flagship course, Machine Learning by Andrew Ng, offered by Stanford University, learning basic ML on Octave language. This went on from Dec 2020 till about June 2021, as various college projects and the exams of both semesters came up. Online classes had surely messed up the schedule of the academic year for us.

October Breeze compiled by Subhashree Sen, with Random Rhymer’s intro!

Some landmarks during this period were getting my writings published in the anthology October Breeze compiled by my batchmate Subhashree Sen and winning Best Paper in ICELTS 2020 by IEM for “Realia Education in Language Learning” with my brother-in-arms Ayushman Sen (LinkedIn || GitHub). The paper is published in IJELTS Vol. 3 No. 4, July 2021.

Diabetes-Tracker

I improved my AISSCE C++ project of Diabetes-Tracker in the end of January 2021, making it suitable to be run on Windows 7 and 10, using GCC 4.0 and above. It was originally built to be run on TurboC++.

A college project that I took part in this time was guest-room-management. It was a group project, requiring the efforts of my classmates: Gayathri MS (LinkedIn || GitHub) & Manas Sahu (LinkedIn || GitHub). I took up on designing the database & handling the documentation of the project. It was engaging to discuss, build upon and change the database structure as we brainstormed new requirements. We used PostgreSQL 10.15 & pgAdmin 4.30 for the database. An interesting feature of pgAdmin was to help build the ERD from the database structure; this eased a lot of my work.

LEGO Islands Minigame

Exploring animation, I began with game development by installing Unity 3D Editor. I did the LEGO Guided Tutorial and from the pre-made assets, I created a small game @ LEGO Islands Minigame. It was interesting and innovative, but required a lot of hardware and specs that my laptop didn’t support at the moment.

Finally, believing in myself and having tried out a lot of other stuff, I took peace in returning to what I liked the most — Cybersec.

Since I was applying for various internships, I found that many of them required creating accounts on their portals. The most difficult task of it was to think of random passwords, so I made my very own project to solve my problem- PWD-Generator.
More on PWD-Generator and internships in the upcoming blogs!

A drop in the pitcher is better than a drop outside it

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Seeking Red Team & Penetration testing roles; Looking for C++ & Python Projects; Working & Learning on TryHackMe rooms; CSE Undergrad @ IIIT-Bhubaneswar

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Atrik Ray

Atrik Ray

Seeking Red Team & Penetration testing roles; Looking for C++ & Python Projects; Working & Learning on TryHackMe rooms; CSE Undergrad @ IIIT-Bhubaneswar

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