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Hacking the Hacker by Roger A. Grimes

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34Profile: Laura Chappell

Scientists say that if we ever meet an alien civilization the likely language used to communicate will be math, because math is the only truly universal language that is likely to be understood by advance civilizations. To understand what is going on with a networked computer, the only true way to understand it is to sniff the network. No one does that better than Laura Chappell. She is like Dr. Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams) in the 2016 movie Arrival or Dr. Ellie Arroway (played by Jodie Foster) in the 1997 movie Contact. She’s very intelligent, focused, especially good at what she does, and respected by her peers.

Her classes and presentations are always well attended and well ranked by participants. I first met her over 20 years ago, when she was teaching a network sniffer class to a local IT group in Virginia Beach, VA. Being a woman in IT was a rarity at the time, and Chappell was used to IT guys hitting on her by trying to show how much they thought they knew about network packet sniffing. She ended her introduction speech to our group by saying, “If you think you’re going to come up here and impress me by trying to alpha‐male me with your knowledge of network packet sniffing, don’t waste your time. I know more than you do.” The crowd loved it. Then she proved she was right and we became life‐long fans.

She has used most network packet sniffers, although her current favorite is the very popular Wireshark (http://www.wireshark.com), which ...

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