Blog: Shameless Self Promotion

Socks! Our cyber prediction for 2024

Ken Munro 22 Dec 2023

I get pretty bored of reading pointless prediction puff pieces from vendors about what is going to happen next year in cyber. Don’t tell me, it’ll be security issues that their next-gen, xDR, paradigm-shifting, lowest TCO turnkey solution resolves.

So here’s what I can guarantee for next year: There will be socks.

The story of PTP socks

27 years later and we are still giving away smart, black socks. …and Yes, they are 100% free giveaways. We don’t keep any details from the website form to blast you with spam, because we’re good like that.

It seems that every now and then another vendor will give away ludicrously coloured socks, but they’re missing the point. They will come and go, PTP socks are here for a while yet ;)

How did the socks start?

Back in 1996 I worked for a firm called Dr Solomon’s, a purveyor of excellent anti-virus software. Dr Alan Solomon himself (I think) came up with the idea of giving away smart black business socks.

Here’s an original pair. Yes, I kept some. They’re a bit faded.

Why socks? Many exhibitors at trade show stands give away all sorts of swag, but  most of it ends up as landfill. Whilst people were perhaps a little less concerned about the environment and waste back then, it still felt wrong to me to give away junk.

Socks are genuinely useful. Once a fortnight or so, the proud new owner of said socks will reach in to their sock drawer and randomly pull out a pair of branded socks.  Suitable to be worn every day with office attire.

Now that’s subtle brand reinforcement. Genius.

Dr Solomon’s was acquired by McAfee in ’98 and the socks quickly disappeared from their marketing repertoire. I left the industry for a while, but came back to find a dearth of foot-related swag in the cyber industry.


So in 2002 we founded SecureTest. I somehow convinced my business partner that we should spend some of our start-up cash on socks. Yes, I got a very odd look indeed. Understandable!

But I felt somewhat vindicated when, after 40+ back to back live hacking demos at the Infosecurity Show, we had given away 1500 pairs of socks to people saying “ah, I loved my Dr Solly’s socks” and the like.

There was a very short run as we partnered with Vigilante at the very beginning. These are rare as hens teeth. Blows my mind that these are 20 years old already:

I still have a few pairs of SecureTest socks left over, though they aren’t mint! People would proudly show off their socks each year, bringing them back to the stand at the show for a top-up.

NCC and a change of colour

Then NCC acquired SecureTest and decided to get all orange on the socks. Here’s a pair of that iteration.

Pen Test Partners

PTP started in 2010. Not being one to reinvent the wheel, we commissioned some socks. Back to the Infosec Show in 2011 and the ever-popular socks got another outing.

In 2016 we were (rightly) challenged at Infosec that we weren’t offering longer socks for women and people who preferred to wear wellington boots, in a Paddington Bear style. We fixed that

Each order of PTP socks is very slightly different. Full marks to anyone who has a complete set through the years!


Our team Xmas gift in 2022 was on the sock theme too, if somewhat larger than the regular PTP socks. It was stuffed full of all sorts of goodies.

Here we are in 2023 and we’ve been through over 20,000 pairs at the last reckoning. Long may it continue.

To vendors who keep pushing brightly coloured socks – we think you’re missing the point a bit. Subtlety for the win every time!

If you’d like a pair of Pen Test Partners socks drop us a line here

Sock care