Jimmy Wylie is a Senior Adversary Hunter at Dragos who spends his days (and nights) searching for and analyzing threats to critical infrastructure. Born and raised in New Orleans, he studied Computer Science at the University of New Orleans, where he received his Bachelor’s in 2009 and his Master’s in 2012. During that time, he was introduced to reverse engineering in a university-level malware analysis class. The class went well, and he continued to tinker with it as a hobby. However, the thought of doing reverse engineering for a living only slightly surpassed his desire to sleep on a bed of nails.
Post-Katrina New Orleans didn’t offer much in the way of tech jobs, and while he tried his hand at internships with SPAWAR and DISA, Jimmy took to remediating houses and trash removal to make a living. In 2011, a DoD contractor contacted him about a malware analyst position. He decided that a salary sounded better than a cash labor job, and, despite misgivings about pursuing reverse engineering as a career, he joined the U.S. Intelligence community. (He still thinks sledgehammers are fun). He quickly learned that malware analysis was much more than staring at hex and assembly. It required the creativity to blend multiple areas of computer science and apply that knowledge in the acceleration of program analysis tasks to enable the detection and classification of malware. The complexity of the problem and the impact of efficient, accurate analysis for defense changed Jimmy’s attitude toward reverse engineering, and since then, he has passionately pursued improvement of his skillset.
Besides malware analysis, Jimmy leveraged a variety of skills against national level adversaries, including network analysis, dead disk and memory forensics, and software development supporting the detection, analysis, and classification of malware in a variety of programming languages. After leaving the intel community, he joined Focal Point Academy, where he developed and taught malware analysis courses to civilian, military, and commercial customers across the country. The material covered a wide range of topics including behavioral analysis, reverse engineering of C/C++ on Windows and Linux, and Windows driver analysis. In 2017, upon recognizing the unique challenges that ICS posed for reverse engineering, he decided to join Dragos, where he applies his skillset to tearing apart capabilities aimed at industrial infrastructure. He was involved in the analysis of CRASHOVERRIDE, the first ever malware to disrupt a power grid, and was a lead analyst on TRISIS, the first ever malware to specifically target human life.
On his off-time, Jimmy enjoys learning about operating systems internals, playing pool, cheap beer, good whiskey, and complaining about Apple (despite owning way too many Apple products).