Command Line Heroes

Command Line Heroes

Hear the epic true tales of how developers, programmers, hackers, geeks, and open source rebels are revolutionizing the technology landscape. Command Line Heroes is an award-winning podcast hosted by Saron Yitbarek and produced by Red Hat. Get root access to show notes, transcripts, and other associated content at


May 31, 2022 23 mins

Our show is all about heroes making great strides in technology. But in InfoSec, not every hero expects to ride off into the sunset. In our series finale, we tackle vulnerability scans, how sharing information can be a powerful tool against cyber crime, and why it’s more important than ever for cybersecurity to have more people, more eyes, and more voices, in the fight.

Wietse Venema gives us the story of SATAN, and how it didn’t de...

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What began as a supposed accounting error landed Cliff Stoll in the midst of database intrusions, government organizations, and the beginnings of a newer threat—cyber-espionage. This led the eclectic astronomer-cum-systems administrator to create what we know today as intrusion detection. And it all began at a time when people didn’t understand the importance of cybersecurity. 

This is a story that many in the infosec community have...

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May 3, 2022 22 mins

It’s a strange situation when someone can hold something hostage from halfway around the world. It’s tragic when your own pictures and files are remotely encrypted. But when it’s a hospital’s system? Ransomware becomes a problem about life or death. 

Eddy Willems recounts his involvement in defeating an early ransomware attack that targeted AIDS researchers. At the time, there was a way to discover the encryption key. But as Moti Yu...

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April 19, 2022 22 mins

All communication leaves the possibility for crossed wires. And as we become more connected, there’s a chance for those with ill intentions to steal our information and meddle in our daily lives—with devastating results. 

Smriti Bhatt breaks down the complexity behind machine-in-the-middle attacks. Johannes Ullrich tells us why we shouldn’t always trust that free WiFi. And the “father of SSL” Taher Elgamal notes that while cryptogra...

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April 5, 2022 23 mins

Overwhelming numbers are scary—even in the best of circumstances. You can plan for them, build up your defenses, and do everything imaginable to prepare. But when that horde of zombies hits, their sheer numbers can still cause devastation. 

Botnets are digital zombie hordes. Jamie Tomasello recounts the scale of the Bredolab botnet—and the many malicious kinds of missions it carried out. Martijn Grooten explains how botnets work, an...

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March 22, 2022 21 mins

Logic bombs rarely have warning sounds. The victims mostly don’t know to expect one. And even when a logic bomb is discovered before it’s triggered, there isn’t always enough time to defuse it. But there are ways to stop them in time. 

Paul Ducklin recounts the race to defuse the CIH logic bomb—and the horrible realization of how widespread it was. Costin Raiu explains how logic bombs get planted, and all the different kinds of dama...

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March 8, 2022 22 mins

Sometimes a fun game, a friendly email, or an innocuous link can be the most convenient place for an enemy to hide. And its prey is none the wiser—until it strikes. The trojan horse uses many layers of deception to do damage. The ingenuity of these attacks keeps an alarming pace with the technology we use every day. But as long as we stick to trusted sites and sources, we can better the odds against those who use our trusting natur...

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February 22, 2022 24 mins

Computer viruses and worms haunt the internet. They worm their way into a system, replicate, and spread again. It’s a simple process—with devastating consequences. But there’s a whole industry of people that rose up to fight back. 

Craig Schmugar recalls how he and his team responded to MyDoom, one of the fastest-spreading worms ever. Dr. Nur Zincir-Heywood reveals the inner workings of viruses and worms, and how they draw their nam...

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Malware haunts us all. Viruses, worms, trojan horses, and the harm they do often corrupts the promise of the internet. But the world of computing continues to grow. Though it’s changed us forever, malware hasn’t stopped us from connecting. 

Season 9 of Command Line Heroes is the culmination of the show. We focus on security and the people who, every day, face the monsters of the digital world. They disinfect computers from viruses, ...

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December 14, 2021 24 mins

Self-driving cars are seemingly just around the corner. These robots aren’t quite ready for the streets. For every hyped-up self-driving showcase, there’s a news story about its failure. But the good news is that we get closer every year. 

Alex Davies steers us through the history of autonomous vehicles. Alex Kendall maps the current self-driving landscape. And Jason Millar takes us under the hood of these robots’ computers to bette...

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November 30, 2021 23 mins

When a robot goes bad, who is responsible? It’s not always clear if the user or the manufacturer is liable when a robot leaves the lot. Human behavior can be complex—and often contradictory. Asking machines to interpret that behavior is quite the task. Will it one day be possible for a robot to have its own sense of right and wrong? And barring robots acting of their own accord, whose job is it to make sure their actions can’t be h...

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November 16, 2021 21 mins

HitchBOT was an experiment in stewardship: A small, rudimentary robot unable to move on its own, depending on the kindness of passersby to help it along its journey. Until it met an untimely end. Trust is a two-way street, and because robots are not powered by their own moral code, they rely on humans to supply both empathy and support. 

Dr. Frauke Zeller shares HitchBOT’s origin story. Eli Schwartz recounts his heartbreak upon lear...

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November 2, 2021 22 mins

For years, prosthetic technology focused on form over function, on masking lost limbs, rather than agency and usability. But things are changing. Innovations in robotics are giving more people more options, with lower thresholds of entry—and lower price tags, too. 

Tilly Lockey takes us through her journey with prosthetic arms. Brian Schulz gives some history of mechanical prosthetics, and what it means for people to reach embodimen...

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Who says tech talk has to be boring? On Compiler, we dig into tech topics big, small, and strange. We talk to people who know the code, and bring their perspectives back to you. Intrigued? Here's a preview episode.

Software development teams often reach a crossroads. Should they perform maintenance and address bug issues, or add new features to satisfy users? The former isn’t as exciting, but sometimes the most important work is inv...

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October 19, 2021 22 mins

It’s hard enough to make a functional, reliable robot. Many people also want to make those robots in our image. That’s a tough needle to thread. Often, the most efficient design isn’t the most human-like one. But that isn’t stopping us from reaching for those humanoid robots. 

Professor Shigeki Sugano argues in favor of creating human-shaped robots. But it’s such an enduring challenge, we’ve come up with a name for it: the uncanny v...

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October 5, 2021 24 mins

One of the first functional robots appeared on TV in 1966. That’s earlier than some of us expect. The Unimate’s televised premiere sparked the world’s imagination. It represented a host of possibilities. Those possibilities, however, also implied a coming competition that would last for decades. 

Dag Spicer tells the story of the Unimate, the first industrial robot—and how little the American public trusted it. But that distrust was...

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September 21, 2021 22 mins

Building a physical robot isn’t cheap—even when it’s the final version. Designing a robot and testing it over and over again? That takes a lot of tries. And likely more than a few failures on the way to success. Luckily, simulation software is reducing the scrap heap—and bringing down the costs of building robots from the ground up. 

Kevin Knoedler shares how simulation software allows him to program and design robots from home. And...

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September 7, 2021 24 mins

The 1980s promised robotic servants were in reach. They’d clean up our houses. Bring us drinks. Usher in an era of leisure. We didn’t get robot butlers. But if we look around, we’ll find an army of robotic servants already automating away domestic drudgery. 

Richard Rowland recounts the extent to which Androbot over-promised on its ability to build a robot servant. 40 years later, we still don’t have robot maids. Monroe Kennedy III ...

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Robots have a special place in our imaginations. Writers, artists, directors, and more have shown how robots can change our world—for better or far, far worse. In the real world, robots seem a long way off. But are they? Season 8 of Command Line Heroes is all about the rise of the robots. They just may not be what you expect. 

We meet the first industrial robot, take a journey through the uncanny valley, and investigate a possible r...

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June 29, 2021 22 mins

The Y2K bug generated a lot of fear, but all that hype fizzled when the new millennium didn’t start with a digital apocalypse. It turns out that fear was just aimed at the wrong catastrophe. While plenty were riding high on the rise of the internet beyond the Y2K scare, another disaster had been brewing since 1995—and would bring them back down. But the dot-com bubble wasn’t the end. The internet was here to stay. 

Not long after th...

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