Team Member Spotlight: Chen Fradkin, Security Researcher
December 09, 2020
Behind Claroty’s ability to deliver the leading industrial cybersecurity platform and serve as the trusted advisor for industrial cybersecurity is a dynamic, collaborative team of doers. In this Team Member Spotlight series, we’ll be shining a spotlight on the experiences and perspectives of featured members of The Claroty Team. To learn more about opportunities to join our team, visit our careers page.
Chen Fradkin, Security Researcher at Claroty
Q: You began your career as a software developer, but eventually went into network security. How did that pivot come about?
Actually, I started as a software developer of a network security product, so network security was always my thing. But after three years of developing and parsing protocols, I wanted to mix it up a bit, so I started doing other work in that area, like solution and architecture design, security consulting, and research.
It all started with VP of Research Amir Preminger and Security Research Team Leader Rotem Mesika asking me to brainstorm ideas for a report about vulnerability disclosures. I started by considering which questions are interesting and meaningful, as well as which trends I would want to show. After that, I looked into what kind of public data was available for me to work with, and then it was just a matter of coding a system to automatically compile and formalize all of it. When that was done, I analyzed the data for insight into the current state of ICS vulnerabilities.
I always have fun with open-ended projects, because I have the freedom to come up with different ideas and pursue a direction I believe to be interesting and relevant. With projects like the Biannual ICS Risk & Vulnerability Report, I’m always asking myself what more I can add to make the end result better.
For example, I went back and added a summary of key events shaping the recent ICS vulnerability landscape to supplement the data and statistics in the report with some context. I also added a section to the report focusing specifically on the hard work of the Claroty Research Team to supplement my reporting on publicly available data from the broader ICS research community. I’m currently working on the second installment of our Biannual ICS Risk & Vulnerability Report, so stay tuned for more to come!
Q: What is your favorite aspect of your role as a security researcher at Claroty?
I love how my work is never exactly the same, and I’m given plenty of room to learn and grow. The Claroty Research Team offers such a fun and supportive environment. You can always count on others to help you, and when you are surrounded with people that are super passionate about what they do, work is never boring.
Q: What do you enjoy most about Claroty’s work culture?
I really enjoy working with people who have different life experiences and professional backgrounds. Collaborating with my colleagues—or even just having conversations with them—always leaves me with a different perspective that enriches my own point of view.
Q: You recently graduated from the Open University of Israel with a degree in computer science. Any advice for those juggling school with a full-time job?
Don’t do it!
Just kidding. I think the three most important pieces of advices I can give are:
Manage your time like crazy. You need to be super organized about all of your duties at the university and at work to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. When you have such little spare time, it’s hard to get back on track if you fall behind, so avoid falling behind in the first place. Schedule everything on your calendar—it really helps.
Manage expectations with your team lead regarding the work-studies balance, and notify them in advance of exams if you’ll need time off to study. That way, they’ll have plenty of time to plan accordingly.
Don’t forget to take a break every once in a while, and have a night off for family, friends, and hobbies. This will help you avoid burnout.
Q: What advice do you have for computer science students struggling to find their niche?
First of all, remember that those who are truly great at their job are those who love doing it. It’s also important to identify your strengths and consider how you can translate those skills into your future work.
It’s easy to get lost within all the possibilities, but try not to rule something out before you’ve really tried it. Take courses in subjects that interest you, or simply start reading about them and study independently. Then, start narrowing down your options by eliminating subjects you found no interest in. And when you do find your niche, remember that your work is not done. You need to grow within it. There is always more to learn.
Q: How have you been staying sane in quarantine?
Zoom meetings with family and friends have been a huge help! I’ve also been trying new wines and keeping myself entertained with TV, cooking, and baking—and also working on finishing my degree, which I finally completed this month! When you are busy, it becomes easier.
Q: Have you developed any new hobbies or habits that you’d like to share?
I started doing yoga, and waking up even earlier to do some more reading. I’ve also tried a ton of cookie dough recipes. I’m still trying to find the best cookie dough ever, but this is still an ongoing quest.
Q: Do you have any tips for staying productive while working from home?
Maintain the routine you had as if you were going to the office. Waking up at the same time every day and never staying in your pajamas is a good start. Making time for workouts and taking breaks is really important. On the Claroty Research Team, we’ve kept doing our regular coffee breaks together via Zoom, and that’s been really helpful as well.
Q: What’s a fun fact about you many people may not know?
I’m obsessed with bubble wrap! Luckily, I recently moved to a new place, so I’m stocked up on it.
Q: When we’re able to safely travel again, what’s the first place you’d like to go?
There are so many places I want to go to! I had a scuba diving trip in the Maldives planned with some friends, but we had to cancel it because of COVID-19. So either a good scuba diving destination, or Argentina, which was supposed to be my post-degree vacation.
Q: You’re based in Israel. Do you have any favorite attractions/sites/nature/etc you recommend everyone should check out when visiting your country?
When talking about food—because obviously, food is an attraction—definitely visit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, which have great restaurants and amazing food tours in the markets. If you are into nature and love greenery, visit Golan Heights and Galilee. Amazing views, waterfalls and lakes, and also lots of wineries. For desert views, check out Makhtesh Ramon.