Interview with Valentina Palacin

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Valentina Palacin is the author of Practical Threat Intelligence and Data-Driven Threat Hunting, we got the chance to sit down with her and find out more about her experience of writing with Packt.

Q: What is/are your specialist tech area(s)?

Valentina: Threat Intelligence and Threat Hunting

Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?

Valentina: I was first approached to write a book about threat hunting using machine learning, but what I really wanted to write was a book that started from the very basics. I wanted to show how my colleague Ruth Barbacil and I approached the subject when we got into it. Luckily for me, Packt liked the idea and we were able to come up with “Practical Threat Intelligence and Data-Driven Threat Hunting”.

Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?

Valentina: I started my path in cybersecurity through Threat Intelligence. I became a threat intelligence analyst in one of the Big Fours. I was very lucky and had a lot of support that allowed me to travel the world presenting our research, Ruth and mine. During our travels we met a lot of very knowledgeable cybersecurity professionals and some of the presentations we saw spiked our interest into threat hunting to the point we co-own the research lab used through out this book!

Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?

Valentina: A lot. Honestly, writing this during quarantine was one of the hardest things I ever did. Past 2020 was difficult for everyone. The fear, the confinement, the sick and the dead… Death stroke me personally too, and having to navigate through the pain while writing was very hard. If I ever get to write another book, I hope it is in better circumstances for me and for everyone around me.

Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?

Valentina: We’ll see. I think most of the technologies discussed will endure, but others, specially the open-source projects may not or will be subject to changes. I tried to emphasize the process over the technologies as much as I could and to provide as many alternatives as possible too.

Q. Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?

Valentina: I like to think that I have come with “from zero-to-hero” approach that is going to be useful for people that have heard about threat hunting but has little to not knowledge about it, but that by the end will have a clear understanding of all basic concepts and how to carry out a hunt step by step. In addition, if the reader is advanced cybersecurity professional, they may skip some chapters but they will still find the book useful to initiate a threat hunting program within an organization.

Q. What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away from the book with?

Valentina: Probably that my book will give them an idea from where to start and how to do it, but the road is long and it’s not going to take you anywhere without practice.

Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?

Valentina: I come from a non-technical background, migrating into tech was a long journey for me. Nevertheless, I always say the same things: “You can do whatever you set your mind to” and “start small”. Setting up small goals will help you feel more satisfied with your own performance and will prevent you from feeling daunted by all that is left to learn. If you rush yourself, you’ll burn out. Sometimes you need to take a step back and enjoy it!

Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?

Valentina: I’m not much of a blogger, but I’ve some post here: https://medium.com/intelforge. Better way to follow my tracks is usually my twitter: @fierytermite

Q. Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?

Valentina: I’ve learned a lot by reading SANS whitepapers, the CIA’s library resources, threat intelligence books, watching cybersecurity presentations and just by following cybersecurity professionals on twitter!

I recommend to follow all the people mentioned in the book, like Katie Nickels (@likethecoins), the ATT&CK team (@MITREattack), Roberto y José Rodriguez (@Cyb3rWard0g y @Cyb3rPandaH) and many others.

Most of all, I would recommend any reader of this book to practice. Practice, practice, practice!

Q. How would you describe your author journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?

Valentina: I have to admit that they were very understanding and patience with me. With everything that went on during this 2020, writing wasn’t easy. I’m deeply thankful for the help and support.

Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?

Valentina: Yes! I’m part of BlueSpace (@BlueSpaceSec, a Latinamerican community) and Open Threat Research (@OTR_Community).

Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?

Valentina: Part of my work is to keep up to date with the news. I’m not going to name favourites, but I manage to keep up with it by using a news aggregator to organize myself.

Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?

Valentina: 2020 was chaos, my organizing too. I will say that I spent lots of late nights writing or searching for inspiration.

Q. What is that one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?

Valentina: Rely on your reviewers. Since English is my second language, sometimes my writing style was a little to casual. The reviewers helped me realize better ways to say what I wanted to say, and we worked together to make sure that my intended meaning wasn’t lost.

Also, don’t leave everything to the last minute!!! That short chapter you thought it was going to be a piece of cake, might turn out to be really hard to write. Give yourself enough time to meet all the deadlines.

You can find Valentina’s book on Amazon by following this link: Please click here

Practical Threat Intelligence and Data-Driven Threat Hunting. – Available on Amazon.com