Cloudflare TV

Dial Up Motive

Presented by Dan Hollinger, David Peter
Originally aired on 

Interviews with Cloudflare employees about their first Internet experiences, and how they informed their decision to later join Cloudflare.

Dial-up modems, bulletin boards, punch-cards, Twitch, Twitter and more!


Transcript (Beta)

Hello, everyone, and welcome to episode four of Dial Up Motive. This is a show where we explore the history of the Internet with some of our Cloudflare employees.

If you're joining us via the live stream, welcome. If you're catching a recording, thank you for taking the time and hopefully enjoy our walk through memory lane.

With me today is David Peter, would you mind introducing yourself for the crowd?

Hello, everyone. So yeah, as I said, my name is David. I've joined Cloudflare in the kind of sales department about only three, four months ago, and it feels like a lifetime.

And yeah, happy, happy to be here. I used to have a monitor that looked just like the one behind you then.

Yeah, I like this virtual background since, you know, try to help people get into the mindset of floppy disks and giant monitors and the mouse pads and old printers.

Oh, and I think I had one of the joysticks there.

That looks familiar. Never had a budget for one of those. Help people pull, you know, pull people into that world.

And so, so it's interesting and you know, good to hear you've recently started at Cloudflare.

How have the remote orientations been?

Yeah, it's, it's been amazing. As I said, we as as Cloudflare is privileged enough to be one of the companies that helps the Internet or random, very much an Internet company, we didn't have as many issues.

And I guess just having a completely remote start.

And yeah, everyone, everyone is amazing. And it feels like you're almost in person with people, then you realize they're a lot taller than what you expect them to be.

That's, that's the only drawback, but it's been fantastic.

And, and yeah, happy, happy to be here. Awesome. And one thing that was interesting, and probably we're dialing into a little bit is you actually began your career on the technical side, with a technical degree, and then you shifted your way to sales.

Could you talk a bit more about that? Um, yeah, so, without without trying to bash, like the technical world, now that I'm a salesperson, so I've started my, I studied at university in network security.

And I was very much thinking I'll be, I'll be a hacker and whatnot, like every single cybersecurity student things will be.

They will be. And then I worked as a security engineer.

And then I realized that I like talking with people, and way too much sometimes to spend so much time kind of with with either code or with software, but I still really, really loved tech.

So I said, you know, I'll find, I'll find a role where I can keep talking about tech.

And, and enjoy that and have like a technical mindset, but also just kind of just speak more, I wanted to talk about tech more than I wanted to configure it.

And so I ended up more on the more on the sales side, but I enjoy a bit of both.

And I get to do both. No, I can understand that completely.

So I began life as you know, a software developer, and, you know, over time realized, wait, I am more that technical consultant type, I do enjoy, you know, working with the tech, understanding it, but also talking about it with others and sharing it.

Exactly, exactly. So and yeah, was it there was there was a meme, I think I just saw just yesterday of Elon Musk when he was coding and the way he was now and he looked like he looks a lot younger now than 15 years ago.

But that that sounds really bad.

We have a lot of really amazing, really hard working engineers in our company.

It ages you a lot when you're looking for that semicolon that you forgot to put in, or just your bug that you can't can't Google.

Yeah, you use a programming language without semicolons.

It's advice to every single person starting in technology.

And so with that, I mean, it'd be great to learn more about your background.

I know you you grew up. You know, you didn't grow up in London.

Can you talk more more how you started off and how you first started using the Internet?

Um, yes. So, um, I was born a vampire. So I was born in Transylvania and in Romania.

And we're very, we're privileged that after communism finished, and for the first 10 years of my life, we have one of the fastest Internet in in Europe, I think it's less congested in Bulgaria and Romania, I think, consistently rank as like the best in Europe.

And with really strict parents when it comes to video games.

So you end up looking in the Internet for any video games and and and cracks for video games.

If you if you know what that is.

Then, then I feel you if you don't, everything was completely legal. That's the disclaimer there.

Just because because you can go back to then. And yeah, so I started to love the Internet.

I had my three computers in my in my house, I turned into like an Internet cafe to play Age of Empires with my buddies.

And you were building out the land parties in your own house.

In order to send In in the tooth in the early 2000s to have like a land party to have like different computers connected and to each other that you could play video games with In land parties like Counter Strike 1.6 and Age of Empires and that kind of stuff.

It's you are the coolest person in the whole of my small town in Romania, which is which is not saying much, but yeah.

I mean, I can understand that, like, especially if coming from a small town where there's nothing else to do like being able to just have a place to play games and especially games that probably had to be sourced from the Internet itself.

You know, it's a good experience for most most kids growing up. Yeah, it was.

And it's funny enough when he said my dad. So I use my dad's computer and I used to input put the CD in Of the video game and every single time he loves to computer.

He deletes it. So I would have to reinstall the game every time my friends come over just because he didn't agree of having it on his computer.

Was this a storage issue was this actually the game was too large for for the hard drives that you had at the time, or was this just a, you know, political issue that we had to remove the game.

I mean, a bit of a bit of both. My dad is like, oh my gosh, like 800 megabytes here.

It's just like it's too much. And at the same time, I don't want games on my computer because you shouldn't be playing games and it's a word.

He never won. And I ended up working at a company. So I still feel like I've got the upper hand.

In in the war between that son, where you should be spending your time.

Yeah, like back then it was it was very difficult to explain like no my interest in games, my ability to set up these computers and network them together will lead me to a future that is being built right now.

Don't, don't worry about it.

And I mean, heck, there are people today, you know, making money playing games making money streaming games like none of that was was even dreamt of when we started playing 100% and like people earning money and we have like even partners of ours that like have such successful eSports And it's, I wish I could have told my parents that and there was I did Google like some studies be like, look, people that play video games have like quicker reactions and he actually doesn't hurt your eyes to be close to into a screen and which it doesn't, it doesn't.

I won't get into the Into it and screens. I've got a lot of better since the early Internet times as well.

So they don't look they look a lot fancier than what you have behind you.

I mean, I've even heard the fun fact that surgeons that play games have higher dexterity than those that do not.

So just, you know, using your fingers and hands and different ways or different configurations benefits, not only future gamers and developers, but Surgeons as well and other people with kind of find dexterity needs in their, in their job.

Yeah, that's, that's what they wanted me to be.

And actually, they want to be a neurosurgeon. So to have like really good hand eye coordination.

I said, Well, I'll, I'll play video games and tennis and and I still do both of those.

So it's, it worked out.

One thing we touched on in our talk before this, and we've touched on it in other call or other dial a motive episodes is this concept of a white hat and a black hat, where, as you start to learn about this technology as as a kid or as a teenager, you know, you can very much take take either path.

And, you know, develop your skill set accordingly in our conversation.

And as you progressed in your life on the Internet.

It seems you went more the blackout rat route. Could you, could you talk about that a bit more Um, obviously one say which one I took because I'm not sure what the specific regulation was Yeah, I think Statute of limitations has passed and will be there.

I'll try to be a favor. That this the disclaimer is there.

So I moved to Spain when I was about 11 so I left the very good Internet in Romania to go to Spain and then I went, I went to university.

Not to study network security, which was where I did in London and that didn't work out because it was a network security.

But I didn't have an Internet connection. So I said, well, how do you get an Internet connection when your parents are still very strict.

So I said, well, you got to look for one. There's so many Wi Fi networks around Madrid is a high density city.

So I downloaded. There was two options.

Back then there was backtrack 2.0 which ended up being catalytics today for the ones that know kind of the penetration testing world.

And then there was we feel way 3.4 so I went for the second option to load the software and it was a little CD and you just put your whole Linux from that CD and use aircraft and whatever was available.

And it was back back then. This is like 2010 I was just 10 years ago, the encryption standards were not as good as they were to get that today, especially the WP or web that they were really easy to crack.

And so I won't say if I was playing game on any neighbor network.

And there's nothing more interesting than someone getting mad at the Internet that you don't pay for speed.

But yeah, that's, that's, you know, beggars can't be choosers.

So if you're, you're already siphoning Wi Fi from your neighbor, and then you're upset because you know packet loss or their top their download speed was too slow.

Exactly. And at some point I was You would get mad and say, I just, I just changed the password.

I just changed the Wi Fi network password and and they'll be locked out.

But then they will realize it, they will reset and then you lose access to anything that you have access to.

So that was not that was not an option.

But yeah, that's kind of how I got interested in what Internet security and and networks and and is part of the reason why I ended up studying a technical degree.

Yeah, I mean, I remember this this time frame, you know, vividly where Wi Fi was just such a, you know, a wild, wild west and half the networks didn't have passwords.

The other half just had WP passwords, which You know, we're notoriously easy to crack or you could essentially just be a script kitty download the CD run the software and voila, you were you were cracking a Wi Fi network.

My friends and I dabbled in that for a few months on our college campus, because of course you could pick up the official college networks and they were just WP And you could explore.

I don't think we ever got so far as cracking because of course there was the student Wi Fi available, but we at least, you know, pretended to to be those black hat hackers from time to time.

We have a very different world before WPA WPA two and things just got a little bit more difficult and I remember knowing if someone was actually using a password on their Wi Fi.

They were mildly more technical than everyone else that just didn't bother didn't didn't think it was a concern and anyone could steal their Internet.

And and I wasn't, I wasn't that good at what I was doing. And after I I graduated and things I look back on the things that I did.

And I just realized how basic they were.

And I just felt like I was the most technical person in the world because I can boot from a CD, which is like going into the BIOS configurations.

And just put in for something else.

It just felt like, I mean, my mom can do this, you know, And so it's, it's very interesting.

And yeah, coming to university.

We also had penetration testing classes and they were a little hard.

And I think They keep saying that the cybersecurity world is the attackers get more complex and more sophisticated, but I think it's actually They have, they have to like just the basic security in place and even companies like what Cloudflare does just makes it harder.

When you're on the black hat side. I mean, it's always a cat and mouse game and always kind of an arms race you you find the easy exploits the low hanging fruit that can be turned into a script and handed out to the masses and then you the trickier exploits.

That become harder to find harder to reach into or take longer, you know, become more of the state actor side and never, never make it to the kind of public domain.

And with that, I know you mentioned, you know, your dissertation was actually written about Cloudflare.

Can you talk a little bit about that.

Um, yeah. So I'm not the and I told you this when we spoke before. I'm not the most proudest on my dissertation, but I went to kind of a cyber security summit and there was someone presenting for back then was open DNS, which now it's a product called Cisco umbrella.

And they said, oh, there's so much stuff that you can do with DNS security and there's this hack that could have been prevented.

And I said, wow, you mean It could have been prevented and you will do it in the future.

So I said, I just, I just do a dissertation with DNS security in mind.

And I could not get away from the Cloudflare website just looking the DNS security anything.

It was just like you just go back to the DNS. The Cloudflare DNS learning center.

And then I looked at encryption elliptical cryptography versus RSA and Cloudflare engineers was like, yeah, we wrote our own cryptography that is more efficient, even than than one of the things that are there.

And here it is. It's on. It's on GitHub have at it. And I was just like, that is such a cool company like you educating me for free.

And helping me out. So I was just that's kind of how I fell in love with with Cloudflare and I kept it in the back of my mind.

And then, yeah, I keep kept annoying the company into they were willing to speak to me.

And now I'm in front of you and and I can know you as well as great.

Now you're one of the faces of Cloudflare to to potential future hires and future users.

And, you know, we're talking about various types of encryption, the wild west of Wi Fi back in back in the as it when it started and whether you got to be a black hat or white hat.

So with with that in mind, and it is fascinating just how much you can learn.

And some of the previous episodes of dial motive are, you know, people going to the Internet to learn about these kind of obscure topics or to learn about how do I accomplish x, you know, with what I have.

So, you know, even googling how to download a live CD of Linux and booting that and it comes complete with a suite of tools and You know, all of that didn't exist all that long ago.

And so picking it up and although you you were a big fish in a small pond, you know, amongst your family and amongst your friends in Spain.

Obviously, the world is, you know, now you're working here at Cloudflare where we're continually pushing the edge of protocols, you know, network security and that's always been fascinating to me as well.

Yeah, and it's, um, it's very interesting.

And you mentioned like just going into the Internet and finding these things out.

And now it's just, I feel like it's so much easier and just feels like understanding the Internet and I didn't even though I studied technical technical degree.

I feel like I didn't really understand the Internet before I started just working Cloudflare Cloudflare And it's because it's all like when when we say our mission is to build a better Internet.

It's actually is Most things that are connected to the Internet and that people see kind of public facing, we call it In the industry, which I was very used to defending companies against threats in the Internet, but I never I never interacted with Cloudflare technology and it was always sort of like endpoint detection tools like security information events management tools.

So yeah, the Internet is a really interesting place now and funny when you said booting from a CD.

I had a lot of issues in the fact that the moment I boot from my Linux instance or my CD, I would lose access to the Internet because I didn't know how to Correctly configure the network adapters or to bridge it my Internet connection to that little operating system.

So I would go on, I would use some Tube catcher.

I don't know what was the software that just downloads your videos from YouTube and I would download them and put it on somewhere else so I can look at them as a guide step by step guide of what I would have to do.

But now is is just straightforward virtualization, you have your Internet, you can you can even pay for for stuff to be done for you.

So it's, it's, it's a very different world.

I think my version of that was I'd be in the school lab that had computers available for each student.

I'd have my laptop open that was booting from the live CD and I was comparing the documentation from the desktop to just okay okay what do I click next.

Where do I go All right, cool. Now I have that live CD up and and of course this was back in the day where everyone had a pile of 100 or, you know, 500 burnable CDs and DVDs that you know those those have vanished already or been replaced by what SD cards USB sticks that have a terabyte of data on them.

Yeah, very. It's almost like the eight track. Yeah, the burnable CDs are to eight track.

Yeah, and and actually this this is again very embarrassing.

So I had a huge collection of movies that you can have been like a Nero burn or whatever I was using back then.

On and I still have it. So if I go back to my primary Romania, there's there's over 10,000 movies, each one of them in a CD.

So it's a huge library. And I think we spent like months just like ordering them.

One by one. So we have a catalog. You can just go to a catalog and alphabetically just choose your movie.

And then you just go to library and you Take the number and and it's and it's crazy that that that was a thing.

And this is not me. This is my dad did most burned most of the movies and he worked for a telecom company in my small town.

So I had a cable direct From the telecom like the whatever is the same company that runs your cable.

So I've run the TV cable from their place straight to our place and you can see the cable from from the window.

So like You open the window and this is this cable that goes straight to this place with a bunch of antennas and stuff.

And it's just something that doesn't happen anymore.

I feel like you have Ethernet connections now in every single like Part of your house and I have that they're hidden right now somewhere above myself.

I know there's a box. Whoever did the fly that I'm currently in had a lot of It was very inspired.

There's this connections everywhere and you don't don't even see them.

So it's it's a long way. Yeah, it's almost in those times.

It's almost like life finds a way you know if you want Internet connection, you're going to find a way to get it.

You're going to learn what you need to You know, if, if, if it's available or if it's a WP password that's hackable, you know, you're, you're going to find a way to either play the games you want or watch the shows you want And I had that a very similar kind of walk through growing up in small town, Ohio, like that was a way to get information get entertainment and that that's how we started to go about it.

And, you know, you learn more as you go.

Yeah, funny. So I'm mentioning again the show being the Internet at the beginning of the days.

And so, so when I was doing this again small town.

Romania or Ohio. I don't know if you guys have the same thing where Pretty much.

They're, they're, they're pretty much the same thing. I've never been there.

I've never been to Romania, but I assume Ohio Ohio's just flatter, but otherwise it's the exact same Yeah, we do have, we do have a lot of mountains in from the Internet point of view.

So the connection that we have set up is if my mom picks up the phone, the Internet just goes out.

So I would be playing a game. And I would hear the phone ring and I see the phone.

And I'm just like, do not pick it up.

We're about to finish this game. And mom's like, What do you mean I won't pick up my own phone because the Internet cuts and I don't know if you had this dilemma, but it was a bit amused me now.

It was always like I could tell. So the phone got picked up my game would lag.

And of course, there's always that crucial moment you were capturing the flag, you're about to win.

My, my, my network froze or the game froze.

I then hear from somewhere in the house of like Daniel, are you on the Internet.

My family always called me Daniel Of course, I'm like, well, not anymore, because by the time they set the phone down on the modem with this connect and I you know I hope we won that that was that was the gist of the game.

Yeah, and there's a little bit right now.

I don't know if I find empathy with anyone that does live gaming right now where people don't understand what it means to be live Or to be in a game where just like, can you can you just do this.

And you're just like, I'm, I have I have peer pressure.

There's like four strangers in the Internet, which I'm playing with would be really bad on me if I just stop being on the Internet.

What do you mean you can't just pause and take out the trash like Yeah, exactly.

That concept. And I mean, it happens so quickly going from, you know, single player gaming to online gaming that I don't think many parents out there were able to connect those dots of, oh, yeah, my My child is playing with strangers online that are dependent on his behaviors in this game or it's it's a team sport.

It's just, you know, can you pause it or go about and do something else real quick.

Yeah, it's, it's still a fight that you you find that with your with your partner, I guess.

A question for me, like from the computer you have behind, I guess.

What was your first experience in terms of like operating systems. I started with like Windows 96 back in the day, and then it was 98 millennium and then XP cam and then everyone I think knows from the history.

But what was your first experience.

Did you have like one of those like you have behind Yeah. So Packard Bell was one of I think our first or second computers I my very first OS was I think called gold OS, which in some ways was just a UI over DOS.

I'd have to do some I'd have to do some googling I'm like I vaguely remember it was slightly before Windows 3.1 came out.

And it was just enough to tie together, you know, floppy disk games and some of your, you know, pre Internet pre modem.

And then eventually got to Windows.

And I thought that was so cool. Like when you when you could finally click around windows and you had more of an environment that that can make sense or was very intuitive to to a kid.

That's interesting. I've never. It's a bit of my time.

I've never had like pure DOS, but I do remember for some reason, or maybe just again America to remain a difference.

Apple operating systems or anything that was no Windows just didn't make it to the country or I never I never even know knew that there is other operating systems, apart from Windows.

So I was to about 10 years ago.

Quite embarrassing. But, but yeah, I guess just just differences again there and on Windows, you could a lot more easily find stuff available online.

It's a lot more open A lot more black hat, I guess.

A lot more vulnerabilities, perhaps.

And, and with that in mind, with our last few minutes on the call. What are you most excited about, you know, looking forward into the future of the Internet.

Especially looking forward with your work here at Cloudflare Um, I very much look forward to, to more interconnected world in the sense of, I think, VR would take over the world in the sense of and especially with this work from home situation.

I feel like people would go to a classroom just by putting a headset on kind of like if you watched me like ready player one kind of situation.

So that's what I'm excited for.

And when it comes to To Cloudflare now that we're a we're a public company.

It's a it's a company. I always loved So much. So I just look forward to the next thing and just writing, writing the wave of helping make a better Internet.

And I think we do a fantastic, fantastic job of that. Cool. And yeah, so, so glad to have you on board and look forward to you being able to talk tech with with all of our future and current customers.

Yes, I would, I would never stop doing that.

I love, I love doing it. So yeah, I think. Thank you, Dan for for the time given and Yeah, just thank you very much.

All right. Well, again, thank you, David for for jumping on and walking us through your, your history of the Internet in Romania.

Hacking Wi Fi passwords in Spain, you know, thank you. Thank everyone that both had an open Wi Fi at that time or a very easy to crack password.

Because password security was was not much of a thing back then. And good to hear that, you know, learning on the Internet is still readily available for all those that that want to continue to develop and You know, learn about encryption, learn about threat detection and go from there.

So for all those on the live stream.

Thank you for joining us. If you're catching a recording. I hope we you enjoyed walking down memory lane.

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

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Dial Up Motive
Human-interest segment asking Cloudflare employees what their first Internet experience was and how it informed them joining Cloudflare. Dial-up modems, bulletin boards, punch-cards, Twitch, Twitter and more.
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