10 November 2017

Thank You to Our Veterans

Mark Kuhr


As our world becomes more technologically advanced, the threat to nation states becomes more complex and our battlefronts are increasingly found in the cybersphere. How? Russia has been accused of hacking elections to exert their political power. Leaked tools from the NSA have been used to carry out cyber attacks around the world. North Korea has been accused of building up an army of hackers to steal confidential state secrets and pilfering millions of dollars from other nation states (i.e.: the Bangladesh bank heist). These examples point to the fact that modern warfare has truly shifted to the cyber domain. Our national security organizations must look critically at new challenges posed by the shift in hosting information, secrets, assets, and defense tactics in digital environments.

At our core, Synack’s mission is to make companies and government agencies more secure against attack. For this reason, Synack has partnered with key defense agencies charged with protecting our freedoms and safety to pioneer a more effective, efficient approach to security to put our country back on the offensive. We are really proud to work alongside these men and women who have dedicated their careers to making America safer.

Today for Veterans Day, we want to recognize and thank all of those who have committed themselves to serving their country. We want to give a special shoutout to the talented and uniquely skilled individuals at Synack who have dedicated a significant time of their lives to public service and our national defense. Happy Veterans Day and thank you!

Meet some of our Synack Veterans:

Stephen Schall
Describe your Military Career:
I was a Submarine Officer based in Pearl Harbor, HI and Military Faculty (an adjunct) at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD

Why did you join the military?
To see the world and pay for school.

What is your proudest moment from your military career?
Returning home from my second submarine deployment.

Why did you join Synack?
Unique/compelling business model and top-tier VCs.

What words of advice do you have for those that want to serve their country?
It can be a great opportunity to pay for school and form lifelong friendships. I highly recommend Hawaii!

What is the next frontier of national cyber security – where do you see our country’s cyber program being in 10 years?
Isolating users via virtualization works and I think we’ll see more solutions like those that start with an assumption of compromise. Cyber Insurance providers will dictate minimum security standards via premiums and managing security across public/private cloud services/microservices will become a massive challenge as everything moves to the cloud (IoT will drive this in a big way). The portability and price of biometric hardware is catching up to software, so we’ll see much more of it in everyday devices, creating a seamless security experience for users.


Phong Le
Describe your Military Career:
I was a Cryptologic Warfare Officer stationed in San Diego, Hawaii, Monterey, and Annapolis.

Why did you join the military?
I enlisted at the age of 18 for the benefits and planned to leave after my term. Here I am 19 years later and I can’t bring myself to take off the uniform–I’m still serving as a Naval Reservist.

What is your proudest moment from your military career?
Supporting Seal Team Delivery Vehicle Team 1 aboard the USS Ohio. The SEALS were on a covert mission to emplace sensors in an area with known terrorist activity. My team provided Indications and Warnings from a SIGINT perspective to enable safe operations

Why did you join Synack?
I couldn’t pass up the opportunity! I was working at a boring Pen Testing consultancy and got really excited about the idea of Crowdsourced. More importantly, I loved my interview experience and knew right away that I wanted to be a part of the Synack culture

What is your favorite Synack memory?
I’m proud that Synack ran a private Veterans Happy Hour event at Blackhat 2017. There’s a lot of ex-military in our industry and it was wonderful for Synack to recognize the veteran community for their contributions to Cyber. Over 100 veterans came to our suite and everyone expressed their gratitude . No other security vendor has ever reached out to Veterans at Blackhat.

What words of advice do you have for those that want to serve their country?
Do it!

What is the next frontier of national cyber security – where do you see our country’s cyber program being in 10 years?
The next frontier is in IoT and the industrial internet. To prevent a Cyber 9/11, the relationship between military and industry will become more collaborative and interdependent.


Jake Garner
Describe your Military Career:
>10 years in the US Navy starting out as an Aviation Ordnanceman loading bombs/missiles on F/A-18F Superhornet aircraft on the flight deck of the nuclear powered aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). I transitioned into Computer Security and did about 3 years of Computer Network Defense, followed by 3 years of Computer Network Exploitation (Offense/Pentesting).

Why did you join the military?
I felt a calling to support our country with the 9/11/2001 World Trade Center attack still fresh in my mind. Additionally, it was a way for me to pay for college (MGIB) as well as a way to get out and see the world without having the money to do so otherwise.

What is your proudest moment from your military career?
That’s classified 🙂

Why did you join Synack?
Synack’s business model intrigued me, and I also wanted to see what it was like to work in a start-up.

What is your favorite Synack memory?
During my first few months at Synack, I was consistently blown away by some of the vulnerability reports that came from our top researchers. I excitedly reported these moments to the VulnOps chat, frequently abusing the “mindblown” emoji. This still happens rather frequently, but I’ve diversified my emoji usage since then.

What words of advice do you have for those that want to serve their country?
It can be a very fulfilling experience if done for the right reasons, with the right work ethic, and in the right state of mind. Anyone considering serving should have a long term and realistic outlook of what the decision means and realize that you are signing up for what is likely to be the biggest commitment of your life for not just you, but the family that supports you when you are called to duty.

What is the next frontier of national cyber security – where do you see our country’s cyber program being in 10 years?
10 years is a long time in the world of technology, but I foresee a continuing arms race between the attackers and defenders. The smarter the defenders get and the better technology they create, the more creative the attacker’s get. It’s a constant battle on a very large and diverse battlefield.

To the Synack Veterans mentioned here and to all of our readers who have served, thank you for your service!


Synack provides initiatives to help foster the security researcher community and engage top talent; technology to optimize researcher efficiency and accelerate vulnerability discovery, opportunities to work on unique targets, personalized support, and skills development. We do this through the Synack platform and our SRT Levels program which includes fun competitions, gamification, mentorship, and specialized projects.

Apply to join the Synack Red Team and become one of the chosen few. We provide the best support for our researchers, and put the highest quality, most relevant features into our platform  – it was designed by hackers for hackers.

If you’re up for the challenge, apply today. Use the code “VETERANSDAY” in your application to get a jump ahead on our waitlist.