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Louis Nyffenegger, Founder of PentesterLab - Favorite Books & Reading Habits

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The interview you’re going to read today is with Ludwig Nyffenegger, security engineer and entrepreneur based in Australia. Louis is the founder of PentesterLab, a learning platform for web penetration testing.

PentesterLab helps you learn about cyber attacks testing, taking you from zero and covering the basis, all the way through the more advanced web vulnerabilities. Through online exercises, videos and courses, it will help you understand the basis, but also advanced web vulnerabilities.

Louis works full-time as a security engineer. He started PentesterLab 6 years ago as a side project – at first it was a paid platform, moved to a free version after 6 months, and later added an extra Pro paid version.

Read on to find out what books helped him throughout the journey and made him decide to create and sell a service.


Was ist dein Lieblingsbuch und warum? Geschäftlich und nicht geschäftlich, wenn möglich.

I don’t think I have a specific book that I can call my favourite. Some books have had a big impact on my view of how to build a product/company (“Nacharbeiten“), some were very enjoyable to read (“The Phoenix Project“), some helped me improve the way I think (“The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out“) and some the way I live (“Essentialism“) or work (“Deep Work“).


Gab es einen bestimmten Moment, in dem Ihnen etwas, das Sie in einem Buch gelesen haben, geholfen hat? Kannst du mir davon erzählen?

I think “Nacharbeiten” really helped me change the way I think about product and services. I use to think that to compete you need a better product/services with more options/features/… It seems pretty obvious when you look at some products (like Apple). Having it written in a book and taking the time to read and think about it really helped me. But it’s after reading “Das schlanke Startup” that I really decided to create and sell a service. This book was just the trigger I needed at the right time.


Welche Bücher haben Sie am meisten beeindruckt? (vielleicht hat sich Ihre Sicht der Dinge verändert, Ihr Karriereweg dramatisch verändert)

I can’t think of a book in particular. Some books like “Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis” definitely widen my views of the economy and how the world runs. But I can’t decide on one book. Kind of like your family and friends shape who you’re, it’s not just one person. I feel the same way about books.

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Welche Bücher würden Sie jungen Leuten empfehlen, die sich für Ihren beruflichen Weg interessieren? Wieso den? (keine Anzahl Begrenzung hier)

For people who want to make a career in security engineering, I don’t think I can recommend just one book. Most of them made sense when they were written but the field is evolving so quickly… Most books are just behind as soon as they are published. My advice would be to practice, read source code, write code and to not spend too much time in technical books. But if you really want to read security books, I would definitely recommend NoStarch books.


Ich bin daran interessiert, mehr über Ihre Lesegewohnheiten zu erfahren. Wie oft liest du? In welchem Format?

I have never been a big reader and it’s getting worse at the moment with 3 young kids (3 under 3). I use to read a lot more when I was commuting for two hours every day. I’m trying really hard to read on Kindle but I can’t get used to it. I only read physical books which is annoying since you need to wait for them to ship (here in Australia). And you can’t quickly search for something with a physical book. I try to read at least few hours every week. I also made an important change in the recent years and decided that I can stop reading books I don’t enjoy without finishing them.


Wie nehmen Sie sich Zeit zum Lesen?

I don’t really really have a way. I used to wake up early to read for 15 minutes (based on “The Morning Miracle”) but right now, I just need sleep.


Machen Sie sich Notizen oder haben Sie eine andere Technik, um die Informationsflut zu bewältigen?

The only thing I do is folding pages.


Wie wählen Sie aus, welche Bücher Sie als nächstes lesen?

Mostly from recommendations on blogs or Hackernews/Ycombinator. I bought a lot of books that I haven’t read yet (“Tsundoku”). Now I try to force myself to finish at least one book before buying another one.


Do you prioritize those recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

Not really. I judge a book by his cover and what random people on the internet have to say about it (I usually read the best and worst reviews on Amazon before deciding).


Letzte Frage: Welches Buch lesen Sie gerade und was versprechen Sie sich davon?

Few technical books and a bit of everything. The following books are currently sitting on my bedside table: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy“, “Predictable Revenue“, “Manufacturing Consent“, “Agile Application Security“. “OAuth In Action“, “Serious Cryptography“.

Links where you can follow Louis Nyffenegger or find out more about his projects:

Books mentioned by Louis Nyffenegger in this interview:


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