July 15, 2022 Securing A Safe Work System For Members And Customers With John Wheeler – The Topcoder Nation Show #18

Can our Topcoder accounts be hacked? Can our well-earned cash be stolen away through the platform? Can customers suffer from intellectual theft? These sensitive questions belong to a discussion on a beyond-interesting topic: security.

Honoring Topcoder’s security themed month, we want to raise awareness on what cyber security means for members and customers. We turned to an expert on the topic to help us understand concerns, risks, and safety mechanisms that are in place; a wise and well-spoken gentleman, John Wheeler, VP of Security.

He joined the company back in 2013 with a background in telecommunications. John was immediately hooked when he participated in projects with customers and delivered results through the platform.

“I was struck by how quickly somebody could learn a domain they weren’t familiar with.”

— John on his first experience working with the community members

This initial experience allowed him a deep breadth of knowledge about the ecosystem that supports transactions between customers and members, which made natural his transition to a security role.

It’s fair to say that the three pillars of security we discussed were cyber hygiene (personal safety mindfulness), trust-worthy online identity, and intellectual property. In his work he strives to set  the right systems, policies, and processes in place to protect Topcoder members and customers.

John brought to light some common mistakes that put us at risk of cyber attacks, as well as mechanisms to avoid those, as well as validating our skills through the platform and contributing to customer projects safely. 


These lessons, tips, and advice captured my attention, they may also help you:

  • Poor password management is the most common reason for breaches. John suggests cyber hygiene to mitigate that, starting with a good password management tool.
  • Setting up a system access strategy is fundamental to reduce risks of successful attacks against personal accounts. Be mindful of second factor authentications and how you set them up in combination.
  • To guarantee a safe environment for remote work, it’s necessary to lay out foundations of policies alongside technology to ensure compliance.
  • Customers’ concerns about intellectual property are managed through NDAs and a code of conduct.
  • Topcoder performs KYC validation to build trust between customers and members.
  • Two-factor authentication is on the roadmap of integration for Topcoder.
  • The new profile pages provide validated proof of the individual and her skills.

Topcoder Nation Show #18 is up on YouTube. See timestamps below for a summary.


  • Why we should be concerned about cyber security: 01:32
  • John’s role in Topcoder – all things security: 03:54
  • Struck by the learning capacity of the community: 07:15
  • The challenge of raising awareness of the talent of crowdsourcing: 11:24
  • Password management and cyber hygiene: 13:35
  • Avoiding mistakes in password management: 16:25
  • Common risks of poor cyber hygiene for Topcoder members: 19:54
  • Topcoder mechanisms to protect members and customers: 22:32
  • NDA to protect intellectual property: 26:01


We held an AMA (ask me anything) with John. Curious community members asked questions for him to ponder. Watch the video from 29:52 to check out the replies to questions such as:

  • Is my Topcoder account at risk of being hacked? How?
  • Will there ever be competitions for crackers?
  • I’ve been competing for a long time and this hypothetical situation has always bugged me. How can I truly know that my “competitors” are indeed individuals and not companies?
  • Should we be worried about external threats on our cash in PACT?
  • Has Topcoder ever suffered from a major breach?
  • Will Topcoder offer security services to clients at any point in the future?


We strive to create the best possible experience for you in every single piece of our platform. Please help us improve the overall experience of the show by completing this one-minute survey:

⚡️ https://forms.gle/W285dKdWgv3NPjqF8 ⚡️

Peace out.


Are you living the gig economy lifestyle at Topcoder? Want to join fellow members? Share your story, your travels, and experiences about the ultimate goal of working at Topcoder; the freedom, the flexibility, and the earnings that make it happen! Join Topcoder Nation.

Top blog series episodes:


Guest Blogger


Sign up for the Topcoder Monthly Customer Newsletter

Thank you

Your information has been successfully received

You will be redirected in 10 seconds