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Who Am I?
“Jonathan Zdziarski is considered, worldwide, to be among the foremost experts in iOS related digital forensics and security. As an iOS security expert in the field (sometimes known as the hacker “NerveGas”), Jonathan’s research into the iPhone has pioneered many modern forensic methodologies used today, and has been validated by the United States’ National Institute of Justice. Jonathan has extensive experience as a forensic scientist and security researcher specializing in reverse engineering, research and development, and penetration testing, and has performed a number of penetration tests ad forensic examinations for government agencies, the military, and private industry. Jonathan frequently consults with law enforcement agencies and military on high profile cases and assists federal, state and local agencies in their forensic investigations, and has trained many federal, state and local agencies internationally. Also an author for O’Reilly Media and NoStarch, Jonathan has written several books related to the iPhone including iPhone Forensics, iPhone SDK Application Development, iPhone Open Application Development, and his latest book, Hacking and Securing iOS Applications.”
- … Forensic scientist and penetration tester (I develop new forensic techniques, I hack banks, government systems, and help solve cases). I am also an experienced iOS / OSX application penetration testing consultant.
- … Author of many books about the iPhone and Machine Learning, and still heavily involved in reverse engineering, security research, forensic tools development, and general hacking as part of my profession.
- … Educator, I teach a number of hands-on forensic science and penetration classes to law enforcement, government, military, and private organizations internationally.
- … Former member of the iPhone Dev-Team, and worked on a number of jailbreak exploits between 2007-2009 ranging from the very first jailbreak of v1.0 to about 3.1.3, after figuring out how to dual-boot an iPhone.
- … Creator of a suite of the first ever iOS Forensics Tools, which have been validated by the National Institute of Justice, and are used by law enforcement agencies worldwide (I also provide a large amount of consulting to various law enforcement agencies for various types of cases)
- Subject matter expert and key contributor to the CompTIA iOS Secure Developer Certification
- … Author of the free AMBER Alert iPhone application used by the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children
- … Author of many popular App Store apps including Ballistic (now acquired) and Disk Analyzer
- … Author of Nestopia for iOS, a Nintendo emulator for iPhone and iPad
- … Original author of the popular DSPAM adaptive language classifier
- … Member of IACIS, HTCC, and InfraGard
- … That guy who got to shoot Al Capone’s Machine Gun, shoot hand guns in Canada, stay up all night working on murder cases with a bunch of canucks, and do other cool things.
- … The hacker most people know as NerveGas.
I’ve been hacking on things since age 8 and have come to develop very strong interests in reverse engineering, forensics, machine learning, and many other geek-worthy projects. My first PC was a TRS-80 with a cassette deck and 128×48 B/W resolution. As a kid, I spent a lot of time bootlegging cheezy games from other TRS-80s, but consistently forgot about the lead track on the tape, and ended up with mostly worthless cassettes. My first Apple was an Apple ][gs, followed by a PowerBook 180c, with flying toasters and lawnmower men.
Several years went by doing my own research and coming up with my own new ideas, some of which I’ve had the pleasure of teaching or writing about. I began touching government around 2008, when I released a suite of forensics tools for the iPhone, and in December 2009, accepted an engineering position a government FFRDC. Since then, I’ve moved onto other exciting research positions and have worked on many projects closely touching security and forensics.
In grade school, nobody ever tells you when you’re good at things, or at least you don’t take them to heart, and so I never wrote much until much later in life. I was approached several years ago about writing a book covering the inner-clockwork of statistical spam filters like my DSPAM, and decided to give the pen a try. It seemed to turn out alright, and shortly thereafter I became inspired to write again on a more regular basis. I’ve recently finished a fifth book with O’Reilly Media. One of the things I noticed was that good writers seemed to enjoy writing, whether or not they became famous for it. Paul Graham’s essays on life particularly inspired me by reminding me that I enjoyed writing. This philosophy seems to work for just about anything else in life too: if you enjoy it, spend a lot of time doing it, regardless of whether it makes you famous or pays the bills.
Music (noun): brief interruptions between bass solos
The bass guitar entered the scene at around 18, which came about by some cosmic mistake when a so-called friend of mine tried to dump his gear on me for some cash. It was a beat up Peavy Foundation, and I spent several months with bleeding fingers figuring out how the stupid thing worked. Eventually started to enjoy it, and have been playing bass for some 20+ years since. While hackers and painters are a more well known combination, hackers and musicians have more fun. They say music is sound that makes sense; I like Vic Wooten’s philosophy that music is a “language”, and like any other language, the most important thing is “having something to say”; having something written on your heart to express in music is an intimate thing, which is one way musicians differ from hackers in some ways, yet share together in others. I currently play an MTD 635, Fodera Emperor II, an old Tobias Pre-Gibson fretless, and a custom Warrior 6-string. My musical inspirations have included Abraham Laboriel, John Patitucci, Anthony Sallee, Victor Wooten, Bootsy Collins, Tommy Sims, and many others. Recommended tracks: Parliament, James Brown, and Brothers Johnson. On a Sunday, you’re more likely than not to find me playing in a church somewhere.
One thing I am undeniably certain about is my faith. When I made the decision to become a Christian, my former interests paled in comparison. I’ve spent several years studying the Greek language, theology, and history, so I could read many manuscripts on parchment and see just how we derived theology.
“Who I am” can’t possibly be expressed adequately without sharing my Christian faith, as it’s not only shaped my character but brought a new level of insight into my life.
In addition to my primary interests, I enjoy photography, Greek apocrypha, fine wine, practicing the Norwegian language, and reading. I’ve also been known to barbecue on occasion.