LAURA BELL | Director of SafeStack Limited | Auckland

Q. How did you get into coding? What is your advice for girls and omg children who want to be coders?

By accident! Seriously! I wanted to do languages and law when I was older but circumstances changed and I needed a job. I found that my skills in learning foreign languages helped me to learn to code. I took a junior development position aged 16 and took it from there.


My piece of advice for people starting out is to follow your passion and stay curious and flexible. My career path has been very wiggly and full of opportunities I would never have imagined. Be brave, say yes to new things (even if they are a little scary) and don't be afraid to fail. Failure is how we learn.

Q. Tell us about a rad piece of code that you’ve written? What are you most proud of?

In 2015 I published an open source security tool prototype called AVA. It gathered information about the people in an organisation in an attempt to identify who would be most vulnerable to social engineering attacks (people based security attacks like phishing). I presented this at Black Hat 2015 in Las Vegas and got to be in a few magazines. It was an exciting adventure. Avasecure has a link to the coverage in Wired Magazine and MIT Tech Review. You can also find the video of my talk here.

Q. What big dreams do you have as a coder?

I now work in software security. I try to make tools and approaches to help people keep data safe inside their software systems.

"Be brave, say yes to new things
...Failure is how we learn"

I would like to work on de-centralised communication and networking tools to allow us more data control as well as helping groups that aren't traditionally very technical, stay safe online. The Internet gives us some amazing tools and opportunities, I believe we all have the right to stay safe when we use them and want to work hard to make this happen.

Code Club Aotearoa