Note: This was originally posted as a thread on Twitter. It has been lightly edited and reformatted here for convenience.
I remember attending Dan Kaminsky’s talk at DEFCON 12 and being blown away by it. Three years later, I went on the original “Hackers on a Plane” trip and ended up seated next to Dan on one of the flights. We quickly became friends. His mentorship over the years had an enormous impact on me.
We both went back to CCCamp in 2011. I excitedly told him about a reverse DNS scanning project (0.0.0.0/0 in 12 hours on AWS for like $50), and then we ended up talking about the Debian RNG bug and password security, walking around camp watching the lightning in the distance.
When I was doing my original brainwallet research back in 2013 and cracked the woodchuck wallet the first thing I did after showing my ex (then girlfriend) was call him. I told him I’d found something but didn’t feel comfortable discussing over the phone. He invited me over.
My ex and I hopped on BART headed into SF and met him at the loft he was living at above a motorcycle shop. We talked and carefully planned and then I accidentally made 250 BTC vanish.
Dan looked at me and said “[my ex] and I are going to go for a walk and return with burritos. You’re going to calm down and have this fixed by the time we get back. It’ll be okay.”
It was, and I did. I’d simply forgotten about change addresses for a brief moment of terror.
I think the first time he mentioned wanting to hire me was a few months later at a Bitcoin conference in San Jose. He believed in me. I went on to work alongside him at White Ops (now known as Human Security) in 2014. He brought me on stage with him at DEFCON that year.
He spent a lot of time helping me put together a CFP submission about my brainwallet research for DEFCON the following year and then helped me put together slides, rehearse, and had a professional help me refine everything. I couldn’t have done it without him.
My wedding was about six weeks before DEFCON - Dan showed up in an Uber, about an hour late. He explained that he’d confused Menlo Park for Morgan Hill when planning to leave. I was just thrilled to have him there.
Dan was a supportive friend, a great mentor, and a delightful colleague. I really can’t overstate what a positive impact he had on my life. It’s hard to believe he’s really gone. That I’ll never get to swap stories about our respective side projects with him again.
I miss him.