To commemorate F-Secure’s 30th year of innovation, we’re profiling 30 of our fellows from our more than 25 offices around the globe.
F-Secure Researcher Bert Steppé (pictured above with about 1000 of his colleagues) didn’t begin his professional life as a cyber security researcher. Until 2 years ago, he was living in Belgium and working as a software developer for a car company. But he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life developing software. His interests lay more in research and analysis.
“Reverse engineering was what I was really into. And cyber security involves a lot of low-level reversing, so it was a natural fit,” Bert explains.
After trying to find a cyber security job in Belgium, Bert realized that opportunities there were limited. So he turned his attention elsewhere. He eventually found an open position with F-Secure – a company that he was familiar with thanks to some of the noteworthy research churned out by F-Secure Labs. The job sounded good. And the opportunity to work in Finland intrigued him.
“I had a positive impression of the Nordic lifestyle and culture. I don’t know why Finland specifically attracted me. Santa Claus, the cryptic language, the overdose of metal bands, or maybe even the weather. Lots of people complain about that but I don’t like the extreme heat, so the climate here is perfect for me,” he says.
So he took the plunge, packed up and moved. It was a huge switch – a new job, a new country, a new way of life, all within a few weeks time. But he has no regrets. Now, he puts his reverse engineering talents to work as a member of F-Secure Labs’ Threat Intelligence team. Bert and his colleagues’ mission is to learn about the threats facing F-Secure’s customers. Their insights help F-Secure develop new, better ways to protect both organizations and individuals.
While that may sound simple, Bert feels his job is quite technical and difficult to explain to people. And the fact that he gets his hands dirty tackling a wide variety of tasks as part of his work doesn’t make that any easier (a sentiment shared by other fellows).
“I monitor security related news, track families and variants of ransomware, cryptominers, botnets, and more to try and spot trends. I do some in-depth analysis of malware to learn how they work. That helps us build better kinds of protection for our customers,” he explains. “I also do testing and other activities to support the development of our own products.”
Bert’s even shared his research with the world as an author on F-Secure’s News from the Labs blog.
“I think the topic I have written mostly about is a banking Trojan called TrickBot. This malware family is still under active development and we often spot spam campaigns delivering it,” says Bert. “But I wouldn’t say there’s one particular threat at the moment that’s eating up most of time. You could say that I’m spending more time on trends – the rise of cryptominers, more attention being paid to hardware bugs like Spectre and Meltdown, and routers becoming cyber criminals’ target of choice.”
And even though the hackers behind online threats keep him busy, Bert’s enthusiasm for his passion hasn’t changed.
“I still get excited about reverse engineering malware samples. And based on the threats we see nowadays, I don’t think that feeling is going to change anytime soon.”
Check out our open positions if you want to join Bert and the hundreds of other great fellows fighting to keep internet users safe from online threats.