'I Worked for Free to Get the Experience': Chris Ray, CISO & Security Researcher by@chrisray

'I Worked for Free to Get the Experience': Chris Ray, CISO & Security Researcher

Chris Ray HackerNoon profile picture

Chris Ray

Chris Ray is a senior member of a local 35+ B-league hockey team and also occasionally blogs about cybersecurity topics.

This story is a part of Hacker Noon's Meet the Writer series of interviews. The series is intended for tech professionals contributing the most insightful Hacker Noon stories to share more about their writing habits, ideas, and professional background (and maybe a hobby or two). If you too would like to start contributing to Hacker Noon, you can do so here.

So let’s start! Tell us a bit about yourself. For example, name, profession, and personal interests.

Wow, I can’t believe my cave-man writing has turned into things that other people enjoy! Where do we start…Hmmm…If we go far enough back in my history we can talk about growing up in a very rural area where it was quicker to drive to a Walmart, buy PC Gamer magazine (to get the free demo disc!) then it was to wait for the 28.8 Kbps dialup to pull anything down from the ‘net.

My dad is the person who piqued my curiosity in computing, peering over his shoulder as he would battle the PC to get the games running. He would later meet some smart guys who founded a very early search engine aggregator (shout out to the Web Ferret team!), it was these young guys that introduced me to C++ and (more importantly) the ability to take tech, creativity, and turn it into a career.

My first job in tech was one in which I worked for free to get experience on my resume (I really did, I explore why in this YouTube video here:


I worked there for three months and took my first paying tech job as desktop support in a hospital. Since then I have worked in various roles from sysadmin, network engineer to security architect, and now CISO. Every role has influenced my outlook on tech and I am thankful for the experiences I have had.

Interesting! What was your latest Hackernoon Top story about?

My last article was about CryptoCurrency Security Standard, which is ‘Cryptos very first industry standard for security.

Do you usually write on similar topics? If not, what do you usually write about?

While Crypto-anything sounds like it would be in the wheelhouse of a security professional, to be honest, my friends nor my colleagues ever expected me to put out something like this. My bread and butter topics are things that keep CISO’s up at night, security engineering-focused content, and any wild story I can find in the security domain.

Great! What is your usual writing routine like (if you have one?)

As a security researcher for GigaOm, I have spent a significant amount of my recent history writing, every day. As simple as it sounds, I found this to be the best thing for my writing skill set. Just sitting down and committing to 1000 words (or some other arbitrary number) has been really helpful.

I have also found that I think in complete sentences, but when I write something gets lost in the mix…and that’s ok! I can always come back and easily add the missing pieces to make it sound like it did in my head.

Of course, you have to be humble, accept your mistakes as learning opportunities, and take all feedback with grace.

The editorial staff here, at HackerNoon, has been great as well!

Being a writer in tech can be a challenge. It’s not often our main role, but an addition to another one. What is the biggest challenge you have when it comes to writing?

Fighting imposter syndrome and finding the right words to use lol. The latter is easily fixed.

On one hand, I feel it is very hard to be original in the production of your content in the tech space because things can be very well documented (either by vendors or open source communities). On the other hand, sometimes it takes your unique understanding of technology and your method of explanation to help others learn and understand it.

What is the next thing you hope to achieve in your career?

I want to usher the cybersecurity industry into a new era. I know that sounds grandiose, but what I mean is still a lot of low-hanging fruit in the industry. We just need to stop getting distracted by the “shiny new things” and look at what works and what doesn’t. I haven’t yet figured out what it will take to make this happen, but I am working on it ;)

Wow, that’s admirable. Now, something more casual: What is your guilty pleasure of choice?

Hmmm… My wife and I have gotten pretty familiar with the restaurants in, and out of, the area (road trip for food) when we don’t feel like cooking! I have been binging the Coin Bureaus videos on YouTube lately, but I don’t feel guilty about that.

Do you have a non-tech-related hobby? If yes, what is it?

Yes, sure do! Naval Ravikant has a famous tweet storm, turned podcast, where he explains his theory of how to achieve wealth and happiness.

In order to achieve wealth, which is choosing what you want to do when you want to do it (not having to “go to work” instead), you need to be sharp mentally and you need to maintain (or grow!) your cognitive capabilities.

This requires physical exercise, regularly. My son and I both play hockey. I coach his team of “squirts” with two other dads a few times a week and I play one (late) night a week.

What can the Hacker Noon community expect to read from you next?

More crypto and more security, whatever that may be!

Thanks for taking time to join our “Meet the writer” series. It was a pleasure!


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