Why should I ask you for computer security help?

It’s a totally fair question.

I’ve been working as a security professional since 1987 (well, 1986 if you count my summer internship at NSA). I’ve worked with big companies on hundred million dollar programs and startups with only an idea, some coffee, and a napkin. (Heck, I’ve been a startup – ask me over a beer sometime).

Check out my resume, if you’d like.

I started at the US National Security Agency which, in addition to spying on other people, has the primary job of protecting US Classified Information.

Computer security for BIG STUFF.

In my case, I wound up working on security for Nuclear Command and Control.

Which still sounds cool to me.

But it was probably the best place to learn the security field.

Because we took security seriously (as security guys).

And our customers in the military services took security seriously (because, you know, NUKES!).

But, there were two really, really important things about Nuclear Command & Control security:

  • There was a real balance between security and operations.
  • Security was tailored to the real security and operational challenges that we faced.

Stakes were high. We didn’t mess around.

It was absolutely the best place to learn.

But, it spoiled me.

Because, it seems, when the stakes are lower, people get sloppy.

Security people get arrogant and think that:

“Security is the center of everything.”


and It isn’t.

And people on the business and operations side want to care about security, but always seem to find a way to leave it for another day.

Sometimes, it is OK to ignore security, sometimes, it isn’t.


But it is really tricky to tell where you are at until you at least understand the risks.

And so, ask your questions!

(OK, probably not about NSA or other classified stuff… you can ask, but I’m not going to tell you anything… nor am I going to do all of that “… but then I’ll have to shoot you” nonsense I’ve been hearing for 29 years.)

So ask.

Even if you think the question is big or the problem is challenging or you don’t quite know how to phrase it.


I may not know the answer, but I’ll let you know that too.

I’m here to help you.