Louis Nyffenegger, Founder of PentesterLab - Favorite Books & Reading Habits
The interview you’re going to read today is with Louis Nyffenegger, security engineer and entrepreneur based in Australia. Louis is the founder of PentesterLab, a learning platform for web penetration testing.
PentesterLab helps you learn about cyber attacks testing, taking you from zero and covering the basis, all the way through the more advanced web vulnerabilities. Through online exercises, videos and courses, it will help you understand the basis, but also advanced web vulnerabilities.
Louis works full-time as a security engineer. He started PentesterLab 6 years ago as a side project – at first it was a paid platform, moved to a free version after 6 months, and later added an extra Pro paid version.
Read on to find out what books helped him throughout the journey and made him decide to create and sell a service.
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
I don’t think I have a specific book that I can call my favourite. Some books have had a big impact on my view of how to build a product/company (“Rework“), some were very enjoyable to read (“The Phoenix Project“), some helped me improve the way I think (“The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out“) and some the way I live (“Essentialism“) or work (“Deep Work“).
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?
I think “Rework” really helped me change the way I think about product and services. I use to think that to compete you need a better product/services with more options/features/… It seems pretty obvious when you look at some products (like Apple). Having it written in a book and taking the time to read and think about it really helped me. But it’s after reading “The Lean Startup” that I really decided to create and sell a service. This book was just the trigger I needed at the right time.
What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)
I can’t think of a book in particular. Some books like “Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis” definitely widen my views of the economy and how the world runs. But I can’t decide on one book. Kind of like your family and friends shape who you’re, it’s not just one person. I feel the same way about books.
What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)
For people who want to make a career in security engineering, I don’t think I can recommend just one book. Most of them made sense when they were written but the field is evolving so quickly… Most books are just behind as soon as they are published. My advice would be to practice, read source code, write code and to not spend too much time in technical books. But if you really want to read security books, I would definitely recommend NoStarch books.
I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?
I have never been a big reader and it’s getting worse at the moment with 3 young kids (3 under 3). I use to read a lot more when I was commuting for two hours every day. I’m trying really hard to read on Kindle but I can’t get used to it. I only read physical books which is annoying since you need to wait for them to ship (here in Australia). And you can’t quickly search for something with a physical book. I try to read at least few hours every week. I also made an important change in the recent years and decided that I can stop reading books I don’t enjoy without finishing them.
How do you make time for reading?
I don’t really really have a way. I used to wake up early to read for 15 minutes (based on “The Morning Miracle”) but right now, I just need sleep.
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
The only thing I do is folding pages.
How do you choose what books to read next?
Mostly from recommendations on blogs or Hackernews/Ycombinator. I bought a lot of books that I haven’t read yet (“Tsundoku”). Now I try to force myself to finish at least one book before buying another one.
Do you prioritize those recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?
Not really. I judge a book by his cover and what random people on the internet have to say about it (I usually read the best and worst reviews on Amazon before deciding).
Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?
Few technical books and a bit of everything. The following books are currently sitting on my bedside table: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy“, “Predictable Revenue“, “Manufacturing Consent“, “Agile Application Security“. “OAuth In Action“, “Serious Cryptography“.
Links where you can follow Louis Nyffenegger or find out more about his projects:
- PentesterLab @ Twitter
- PentesterLab Blog
- PentesterLab Bootcamp
- Louis’ interview @ IndieHackers
Books mentioned by Louis Nyffenegger in this interview:
- Rework by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
- The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim,, Kevin Behr, George Spafford
- The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard Feynman by Richard P. Feynman
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis by James Rickards
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into a Sales Machine with the $100 Million Best Practices of Salesforce.com by Aaron Ross, Marylou Tyler
- Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman, Noam Chomsky
- Agile Application Security: Enabling Security in a Continuous Delivery Pipeline by Laura Bell, Michael Brunton-Spall, Rich Smith, Jim Bird
- OAuth 2 in Action by Justin Richer, Antonio Sanso
- Serious Cryptography: A Practical Introduction to Modern Encryption by Jean-Philippe Aumasson