Few people know Detectify’s website as well as our web developer Martina Janevska. Originally from Macedonia, Martina moved to Sweden to do a master’s in software engineering and joined Detectify’s web development team in the spring of 2015. We talked to her about her work, how she maintains a security-oriented mindset, and what it takes to be a successful developer.
When you log in to your Detectify account, many of the features you use are the result of Martina Janevska’s work. For Martina, the best thing about being a developer is coming up with creative solutions to problems and the potential to learn something new every day.
From logic enthusiast to software engineer
Martina has always had a knack for solving logical problems and liked maths and physics, but in her own words, she wasn’t “that big of a nerd in high school, programming-wise”. When the time came to apply for university, she chose to study Computer Science and Informatics because the programme was known for being challenging and requiring heaps of logical thinking. Martina decided to take on the challenge and says her studies taught her a lot about the concept of programming itself: “Learning how to think about the problems you need to solve is really important. In programming, you always have a problem and how you’re going to approach it depends on your way of thinking.”
Macedonia, Croatia, and Sweden
After finishing her degree, Martina was ready for another challenge – moving abroad for her master’s. Having spent three months doing an internship in Croatia as an undergraduate, she knew that living in a foreign country is an unforgettable experience: “I had a great time in Croatia because I worked with what I had learnt, got the chance to improve, and met a lot of people. I really loved it and wanted to do it again!” When a lecturer mentioned that Sweden was worth visiting, Martina decided to apply for a one-year master’s programme in software engineering at Mälardalen University College in Västerås.
Even though she now lives in Stockholm, Västerås still feels like home to Martina as it was her first impression of Sweden. She says it was the perfect place to slowly get acquainted with a new country and adjust to the environment – even the Swedish weather! In Sweden, the approach to education is very different from that in Macedonia, which was a pleasant surprise as it gave Martina more freedom to work independently and gain in-depth knowledge about solving programming problems.
Growing as a developer
Towards the end of their studies, Martina and her coursemates attended a recruiting event at SUP46 called Meet a Startup. Out of all the startups that presented their pitches that day, Detectify was the one that caught Martina’s attention. She remembers her first impression of the company very clearly and says: “I thought ‘Wow, these guys have a really interesting idea, I really like them.’” Martina decided to talk to the team and as it happened, the company was looking for developers!
The security aspect of technology was a subject Martina had always found interesting, but joining Detectify took it to a whole new level. The steep learning curve was a great opportunity to grow as a developer and Martina says it’s exciting to see how much progress she has made and how her way of thinking about programming has changed. “I definitely do things differently now,” she explains as she looks back on the code she wrote for a coding challenge that was part of the recruitment process.
“I feel like I’m learning every day”
Being surrounded by experienced security researchers makes Martina’s work environment stimulating and helps her constantly improve her security mindset. Learning new skills at work is an ongoing process that isn’t limited to security knowledge. Martina says the most challenging aspect of her job is the fact that technology changes all the time and as a developer, it’s important to stay on top of what’s new: “You might be working on something today and tomorrow, something new is released and what you’ve built won’t work anymore. You need to be able to keep up.”
Q&A with Martina Janevska
Mac or PC?
Mac. PC was my first love but nowadays it’s Mac. I don’t only like it as a developer, but also as a user. It’s a good combo of Unix and commercial software.
What is your favourite thing you have built while working at Detectify?
All of them! If I have to choose one, it’s the new findings list. It feels good with the filtering and it looks good.
What’s the most important skill a developer should have?
I think it’s learning to learn. Learning how to learn things is really important in all areas of life. It’s practically impossible to follow all the changes in technology, but if you are good at learning, you can improve a lot. Knowing how to work with the people in your team is also important, to collaborate, being able to agree on stuff.
Do you have any security tips for web developers?
One of the most important things I’ve learnt at Detectify is testing user inputs. Always, always try to test the input and sanitise it. Never trust user inputs and never assume that your code is fully invulnerable.
Use encryption more often than you think you should.
Use limits in your code because most attackers do attacks over time so it’s always good to have a way to delimit that.
Code reviewers and analysers are your friends. Don’t be afraid of people who take a look at your code and say “I don’t like that” because it’s for your own good and for the good of what you’re developing.
Want to work in Detectify’s tech team? Take a look at our Careers page and check out our open positions!