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Beloved hacking veteran Kelly ‘Aloria’ Lum passes away at 41

Beloved hacking veteran Kelly ‘Aloria’ Lum passes away at 41

2023-03-22 21:34:54

Kelly Lum, higher recognized in hacking circles as Aloria, handed away on Sunday.

Aloria was a veteran of the cybersecurity group, particularly the one in New York, her dwelling for a few years. The Twitter account of the New York Metropolis safety convention SummerCon announced her demise on Monday, prompting a seemingly infinite checklist of individuals to publicly mourn her loss and pay tribute to her life.

Individuals who knew her name her an “angel,” an “incredible woman,” “so prickly and dark and funny, and yet warm and welcoming,” “brilliant, sharp, deeply witty […] a daring adventurer, a kind soul,” “one of the funniest, kindest and most honest people” on Twitter, “unique and memorable,” “a legend […] brilliant, generous, hilarious,” the “the archetypal hacker, both technical and unconventional in the non-technical,” “kind and welcoming,” somebody whose “magic was making us all feel seen & appreciated just as we were,” an “inspiration,” “the peak of original content, a real character,” and somebody who “truly did change stuff for the better.”

In accordance with the SummerCon official Twitter account, “Kelly didn’t take her personal life, however handed on account of progressed essential sickness, in a hospitalized setting surrounded by her household.”

Aloria was 41, and she or he’s survived by her husband.

Some folks bear in mind her for her qualities as an individual, and for her contributions to hacking tradition, greater than for her technical talents, despite the fact that she was very educated and a outstanding cybersecurity skilled.

“I really feel like Aloria represented what the infosec trade is at its finest: performing improbable feats of problem-solving with playfulness, ingenuity, and authenticity. She was an trade legend and a trailblazer, however I don’t assume she ever noticed herself that manner,” mentioned Kelly Shortridge, who knew her for greater than a decade as each she and Aloria had been a part of the New York Metropolis hacking scene. “Not like most safety luminaries, she really lived her life as to what fulfilled her fairly than what inflated her ego. She was beneficiant and the antithesis of a gatekeeper; she welcomed me within the trade when few others did.”

Picture Credit: Screenshot / Kelly ‘Aloria’ Lum

Zach Lanier, who knew her for greater than a decade, mentioned she was like “a sibling” to him, and one in every of his finest associates. When he and Aloria lived in New York Metropolis on the similar time within the early 2010s, they might have a practice of going out with different cybersecurity of us each Thursday, first to a Mexican restaurant in Union Sq., the place they might order “too many tacos and margaritas,” after which to a karaoke bar.

Aloria liked to sing Separate Ways by Journey. The 2 would additionally sing Forgot About Dre, with Aloria singing Dr. Dre’s components, and Lanier singing Eminem’s components, Lanier mentioned.

“She would nail it and knock it out of the park each time,” he mentioned.

“You don’t need to go after her as a result of it’s like: ‘Oh, God, how do I observe that up?’ It’s as in case your opening act is an expert and you’re an beginner,” mentioned one other good friend of Kelly who works in cybersecurity, who requested to not be named as his firm doesn’t enable him to talk to the press.

Her demise, Lanier mentioned, is especially tragic as a result of from his standpoint, “she discovered a semblance of happiness that I had not seen for some time.”

“She was the happiest she’s ever been,” mentioned Erik Cabetas, one other veteran of the New York cybersecurity scene who knew her since 2009.

Clippy meme

A meme memorial made by Erik Cabetas. “She would have notably appreciated this,” he mentioned pointing at Clippy. Picture Credit: Erik Cabetas

Katie Moussouris, who additionally knew her for greater than a decade, highlighted the truth that Aloria had been a part of the cybersecurity trade for round 20 years — one of many few ladies to have completed so. Aside from her technical qualities as a hacker and cybersecurity skilled, Moussouris mentioned that Aloria “was so giving not simply along with her time, however her spirit. Something she might share that might assist an individual she would, and she or he did.”

“She was only a stunning tortured soul,” Moussouris mentioned. “Her entire existence and the whole lot that she gave to everyone — I used to be like: how does she even have it left given her struggles?”

Aloria usually talked openly about having bipolar disorder, a persistent — and sometimes misunderstood — situation that I also suffer from. It’s not possible to quantify one thing like this, however having somebody so outstanding and well-known within the cybersecurity scene speak so overtly about psychological well being in all probability impressed and helped so many individuals overcome the stigma that psychological well being points, notably bipolar dysfunction, sadly nonetheless carry.

“I’ve been making an attempt to clarify away stigma, and it form of occurred to me that that’s not the way you erase stigma. I endure from Bipolar II dysfunction and I’m additionally a a number of suicide try survivor,” she said in a 2016 video. “You don’t rationalize away stigma, you may erase it by being a optimistic instance of somebody who has gone by way of this stuff and are available out on prime, being profitable at overcoming the challenges that they’re confronted with.”

“If there hadn’t been a lot stigma related to bipolar dysfunction I might need been recognized earlier,” she continued, explaining that she was solely recognized lately, regardless of struggling along with her psychological well being for a very long time. “And I wouldn’t have needed to spend 20 years struggling and turning into hopeless as a result of I didn’t assume there was an answer for me.”

“My life now could be — I’m not gonna say it’s good. I nonetheless have darkish days however I’ve completed so many wonderful issues, traveled to some superior international locations, have superior associates, flew a aircraft as soon as,” she mentioned. “It’s a protracted laborious street forward generally, however that doesn’t imply that the journey isn’t going someplace, and it isn’t worthwhile.”

A picture of Aloria wearing a funny t-shirt.

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An image of Aloria carrying a humorous t-shirt. Picture Credit: Zach Lanier

Lanier mentioned that Aloria “was all the time very useful… she all the time wished to assist folks,” by being open and sincere about her personal psychological well being struggles.

Matthew Bischoff, a former Tumblr product and engineering supervisor, who labored with Aloria on the social media community, mentioned that Aloria’s “potential to meme virtually something will stick to me for a really very long time.”

“Her humorousness, dedication to doing the fitting factor for customers and fierce advocacy for the causes she believed in had been all vastly impactful on me and my profession,” they mentioned.

Whereas at Tumblr, Aloria advocated for turning on HTTPS by default on the location, which might make customers’ connections to the location extra personal and safe. The well-known Twitter person SwiftOnSecurity wrote that her “pushing HTTPS and LetsEncrypt at such a large running a blog platform had actual waves throughout the trade.”

“She was additionally an unsung hero, and lots of issues she did, she didn’t actually wish to broadcast. I believe that’s true of lots of — particularly ladies within the safety group,” her nameless good friend mentioned. “Due to how unfair the safety group may be, I believe lots of ladies are hesitant to face out.”

“Many individuals know her for her iconic retro computing swag, [the meme account] Infosec Reactions, and different cultural contributions to infosec however she wrecked many methods. In truth, I think her humility relative to her friends is why her fierce exploitation prowess was not talked about as usually,” Shortridge mentioned. “She might deftly navigate compromising methods in addition to defending them, and her views had been all the time well-reasoned fairly than self-serving — once more in distinction to a lot of her friends.”

Cabetas mentioned that Aloria was a fantastic hacker, but additionally requested me to “let folks know that she was in regards to the lulz.”

Certainly, she was. In her spare time, Aloria maintained the hilarious Twitter parody account “Infosec Reactions,” 3D-printed issues like a pickle with Nicholas Cage’s face, collected silly t-shirts and hats, traveled the world — Lanier mentioned she set foot on all continents, together with Antarctica — and took beautiful pictures that she would publish on her Instagram and Tumblr.

And, in fact, she was a formidable karaoker.

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