2023 01 24 eacademy ajhammund

AJ Hammond, a Security, Privacy & Risk Consulting- Cyber Testing Associate with RSM, or “Ethical Hacker” as he prefers, stopped by the eAcademy classroom to discuss the importance of protecting intellectual property within the startup world.

AJ was a 2018 graduate of Hickory High School and the eAcademy program. He attended hacking competitions in high school that were organized by RSM, eventually took an internship with them while attending the University of Mount Union, before joining their team officially in 2022 after graduating with a B.S. in Computer Science. RSM provides audit, tax and consulting services for middle market leaders. At RSM, AJ is charged with phising, vishing, internal and external penetration tests, web application penetration tests, physical penetration tests and break-ins, and mobile penetration tests. He invited students into the RSM War Room and showed a demo of how he exploits certain software programs like Windows to help companies see where they are most vulnerable so they can improve upon their cybersecurity. 

In an article written by one of his colleagues, Blaire Grassel, titled “Back to Basics: Microsoft Exploits” from October 4, 2022, it’s learned that:

“Often, software vendors such as Microsoft release security patches for their products. Instead of a full-scale upgrade, patches are smaller, targeted updates that address vulnerabilities discovered in the current version of the product. The vulnerabilities fixed by these patches are often critical issues that can be exploited by attackers to gain access to sensitive information or even infect systems with ransomware.”

AJ explained how these patches are exploited, what successful exploits accomplish, and how best to apply these and other security patches. As eA students begin to journey through the startup process, they will need to keep personally identifiable information, sensitive customer information, and all intellectual property surrounding their business venture confidential. Cybersecurity is of the utmost importance. 

As an eA graduate himself, he also discussed transferable skills from entrepreneurship to hacking such as networking, out-of-the-box thinking, problem/puzzle solving, persistence, failing fast and moving on.  

If you would like to learn more about RSM, please visit 

To read the full article, “Back to Basics: Microsoft Exploits,” please visit RSM’s War Room at 

If you’d like more information on the eAcademy program, please reach out to Program Director, Katie Parr, at