cybersecurity education

Let’s Talk About Cybersecurity Education

I read this article on tech boot camps, inspiring me to write this post.

Dreams Deferred

I recently presented at the CAE (Center for Academic Excellence) Forum, “Dreams Deferred: The Cost of Cybersecurity Education,” discussing boot camps/training center programs centered around cybersecurity.

The inspiration for my presentation came as I read articles discussing potential solutions to retain and strengthen the cybersecurity pipeline. But I didn’t see articles discussing the downside and downright predatory practices of some boot camps/training centers with underrepresented groups.

In the past three months, I encountered four African Americans lured into these programs. When I asked what made them want to pursue these boot camps/training centers, they described reading articles and watching the news discussing the cybersecurity workforce shortage. Each person believed that completing the boot camp/training center program would improve their lives by getting a job in cybersecurity.

(Almost) Dream Deferred

Their stories sparked memories of almost enrolling in a training center after high school. At that time, IT was a hot topic. I remember commercials describing students as “job ready” after completing the program, and IT experience was not required. I felt ahead of the curve as I had IT experience working at a non-profit during high school.

The plan was to go to class in the morning (8am-12pm) as classes were half-days (another selling point) and then go to work afterward. After describing this to my mentor, she advised me to not go down that path. Her words, “Jasmine go to community college, do not destroy your life. If something is too good to be true, most times it is.”

I’m glad my mentor gave that advice. If she didn’t, I wouldn’t have done the amazing things in my career, such as being an intern for the first African American to receive a Doctorate in Computer Science (Dr. Clarence “Skip” Ellis), graduating with my Master’s in Computer Science and Graduate Certificate in Information Security and Privacy, traveling the world presenting cybersecurity topics, and mentoring the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.

Insidious and Predatory Practices

To better understand the insidious and predatory practices of boot camps/training centers, we need to discuss their patterns:

1. Create targeted ads and marketing to underrepresented groups

2. Lure the potential student to get into tech with little to no experience on an accelerated schedule of six months to one year

3. Make the program seem “exclusive” to rush the student to enroll as soon as possible

4. Have students sign private loans to pay for tuition, which on average is between 3k-15k and interest rates of 10%+

5. The coursework is too difficult for the student to master, and they drop out of the program.


6. The coursework is too easy and doesn’t challenge the student

7. The student graduates from the program, doesn’t find a job and has thousands of dollars in debt.

Falling Prey

One of the four people that contacted me described this exact scenario. This person has a private loan for $12,000 with an interest rate of 13%. Their program is six months. I remember telling this person that my interest rate was never that high with all my years of education (Master’s). They also told me they were falling behind in their coursework as the curriculum had drastically increased. When I inquired more about the coursework, I found the curriculum is not accredited, and most of it is currently available on YouTube. After showing them this information, the person felt dejected. Their words, “I spent $12,000 to improve my life, and I could’ve done this on YouTube for free.”

Quality Cybersecurity Education for All

With the increased push to increase and strengthen the cybersecurity pipeline, mainly from the White House with the National Cybersecurity Workforce and Education Summit, the education potential cybersecurity professionals consume must be quality. This is extremely important for underrepresented populations more susceptible to enrolling in faulty programs described above.

I created my non-profit, T-ATP, to provide an environment for prospective cybersecurity professionals to receive quality cybersecurity training and education. Our mission – creating quality cybersecurity education accessible to all. Students shouldn’t go into debt to improve their lives through quality education.

To learn more or support T-ATP, visit the link here.

hacking, mobile

It’s Finally Here!!! Intro To Android Security VM v2

In my previous post I described how I started working on v2 of Intro TO Android Security VM.

To view that post, click HERE.

Anyway, I can finally say… I AM DONE WITH THE VM!

What’s different between version 1.1.2 to version 2. Well… keep reading

In version 2 I added more dynamic analysis tools such as MARA, PIDCat, QARK. In the pentesting section, I added Metasploit. I also added MobSF (a one stop shop with dynamic scanning for android applications) in a docker container. In version 1.1.2 I tried to upgrade my python version to 3.7.5 and broke my Linux build (could not update the distro).

After speaking with Anant (owner/creator of @AndroidTamer) we decided to put MobSF into a docker container to keep it contained and not break our build.

I also created the virtual machine from a vagrant machine, as I realized with version 1, I severely underestimated the storage I needed to include all the programs I wanted. I also included insecure android apps to test in the Documents folder.

Interested in learning more – download/use the virtual machine at the following location:

SourceForge –> IntroAndroidSecurity download |, click on External Link

Finally, make sure to read the file as most issues can be solved in that file!

Hope everyone enjoy the virtual machine. If you have any questions or want to see an application added – let me know!

hacking, mobile

Get Excited! Version 2 of IntroToAndroidHacking Virtual Machine Is On The Way!

As the title suggests, I am working on the second version of the virtual machine I created in 2019.

I put myself out there and decided to create a training on Mobile Security and Bug Bounties – something I wanted to learn and am still interested in.

I noticed there was a virtual machine titled – Android Tamer, score! Well… not really. At the time, Android Tamer was SUPER out of date. Speaking with the creator, Anant Shrivastava about my dilemma needing a virtual machine for my training. Anant told me that it would be easier to create my own virtual machine as opposed to fixing the current version of Android Tamer.

Creating my own virtual machine? I’ve never done that before. Challenge accepted!

Anant, was SUPER helpful with all of my questions and guided me on creating the virtual machine. In about a month the first version was created. Yay!

After the training, I asked for feedback and decided I needed to revamp the virtual machine to make it more accessible/user friendly.

I added and updated out of date software in the virtual machine.

Then I noticed – I was running out of memory when trying to do my upgrades.

I realized at that moment, I totally underestimated the size of the virtual machine.

So, at this time I am revamping the virtual machine and starting with a barebone version of Ubuntu 18.04 (this is the OS the first version was built on) from Vagrant. Again, Anant gave me this advice when creating the first version. I didn’t go down that path as I never heard of Vagrant.

Speaking of Vagrant – shameless plug – I created a course through Cybrary on Intro to Vagrant. The course can be found here.

I started on the quest to version 2 yesterday (Sunday February 7, 2021), and I must say it was trying, yet fun.

Once I created the vagrantfile and started the vagrant box I realized I was dealing with the command prompt. I knew this wasn’t going to work and I needed to add a user interface. Looking on the internet, I found the lightdm and tried installing it. Once I rebooted my virtual machine, I encountered the error “could not log into session.” The login did not work.

Putting my research hat, I found the following link on how to remediate the no session login. Hmm, the ligthdm is using an older version of the unity framework that needs to be removed.

Rebooting the machine – it was a…

Somewhat success.

I had a user interface, but I didn’t like it. See tweets below

I wanted the user interface to have the same feel as the 18.04 Bionic Beaver operating system.

Doing even more research I found that 18.04 Bionic Beaver is using the MATE desktop.

Back to Google I go. I found a great site on how to install MATE onto a Linux operating system.

Somewhat score? The user interface is getting close, but not there.

Going back to the site above, I noticed that I installed the wrong version of the MATE desktop. I installed just the MATE desktop without the bells and whistles.

Looking at the bottom for the Ubuntu section it states – “

Alternatively you may choose to install Ubuntu MATE Remix.

Ubuntu MATE is a more comprehensive option that offers a slightly tweaked
layout, configuration, and themes to integrate into Ubuntu in a more seamless
fashion. This will install the complete MATE Desktop Environment as well as
LightDM and numerous other applications to provide a full and well rounded

Once I installed the Remixed version – I finally found success!

Now that I have the interface I wanted – it’s time to add the tools and insecure apps.

Yes, that’s what set my virtual machine apart – I have insecure android apps installed in the virtual machine for students to learn mobile and android hacking as well as the common programs needed to perform mobile and android hacking.

Now, the fun part… Adding the software. I’ve added Metasploit, Burp and Zap proxies, etc.

I can’t wait to show the final product!

I hope everyone likes it…

hacking, owasp, web application security

Slides from Hacking OWASP Top 10 – Infinity Stones + Walkthrough at Blacks in Cybersecurity

On Friday February 5, 2021, I provided a training on teaching Application Security concepts using the OWASP Top 10.

The Open Web Application Security Project or OWASP is a non-profit organization whose mission is to make application security better. Members of OWASP meet every few years to create a top 10 list of the prevalent vulnerabilities in the industry. The last list was from 2017.

The structure of my training is the first part is to present the theoretical part – concepts and definitions. The last part of the training is a practical or application of the first part of the training (theoretical).

For the practical piece I used the website – BodgeIt Store. The BodgeIt Store is an insecure app, that should NOT be deployed in commercial servers. Many will say that the BodgeIt Store is a SUPER old insecure app (it’s close to 10 years old).

The app is close to 10 years old, but I find this app is good to teach application security as there’s a scoreboard and 12 challenges to complete.

Anyway, without further ado below are my slides from my training

I also provided documents that provide a walkthrough of the BodgeIt store as well as installing and using an interception proxy such as Burp Suite.

Finally, I included instructions on how to import the OWASP Broken Authentication VM which have a series of insecure apps.

See below.

Enjoy and keep hacking!