I grew up in Northern California, as the son of an early programmer I held a pacifier in one hand and a keyboard in the other. I came into Information Security Consulting about 9 years ago, and was hired by a New York based consulting company in 1999. Beginning as a lead security engineer, I eventually became a security practice manager developing new concepts and methodologies, and working high-profile projects for Fortune 500 companies and government organizations. Most recently, I was amongst the founders of Relational Security Corporation, an organization that focuses on new tools and methodologies for Information Security Assessment and Risk Management.
How did you gain interest in computer security?
Because my father was an early programmer, I lived and breathed computers and coding throughout my childhood. As I got older I realized it was not my desire to spend days and nights battling coding logic. My time was balanced between computers, the arts, and philosophy. It all started when I was hired by a hospital on the West Coast. Daily, I had information security projects thrown my way. It didn't take long to realize that Information Security was the perfect balance between logical and creative. As it says in Inside the Security Mind, "security is not a battle of a human's creativity vs a computer's predictable logic… it is an unpredictable battle between two equally creative and dynamic forces: Creativity vs. Creativity." This experience inspired my journey onto the Information Security path and I have never lost my passion for it.
What operating system(s) do you use and why?
Personally I have a mix of everything in my house and office. Professionally, there is no single OS I use or recommend. Each has its calling, each has its purpose, and each has its place. The battle of the operating systems all-to-often transcends security or technology and lands in the world of politics. However, I will say that the convenience of a Windows desktop proves necessary in many practical-life instances. As such, Windows 2000 is my primary laptop OS with a Linux Duel-boot.
How long did it take you to write "Inside the Security Mind: Making the Tough Decisions" and what was it like? Any major difficulties?
The ideas for Inside the Security Mind had been evolving for many years, inspired by working with my clients to solve security issues. The actual book took about 8 months to write and 18 months for the entire publishing process.
The book itself was quite difficult to write in the beginning. It was not similar to anything available, and honing in on the right balance of philosophy and practical example to achieve maximum impact, proved challenging. Additionally, knowing what you want to say is easy, but relating it to the world is not. Because the book is focused on "all audiences," not just technical gurus or security professionals, great editorial care had to be taken to make the book easy-to-read, with minimal technical acronyms.
What kind of response did you get from the security community to your book? Are you satisfied with the results?
The feedback has been tremendous. When exploring a new approach you can never be sure how readers will respond. In the short time since its publication, Inside the Security Mind has received Kudos from several infosec publications and security leaders (like Stephen Northcutt of SANS). I am also pleased to hear the enthusiastic feedback on the "philosophy and concepts", which are the core focus of the book.