Hey PHF HYIPers - I saw a great interview with my favorite Security expert in my "Server News" newsletter, I thought you might like to see some of the reasons I like this guy so well.
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Issue #1000 - Interview with Stu Sjouwerman
We're talking with Stu Sjouwerman the guy who started this newsletter way, way back in September of 1997. Stu, 17 years is a long time in IT, isn't it? That's about 119 dog years, and for old dogs like ourselves who work in the IT profession it feels more like several centuries. What was the IT industry like when you started WServerNews--or W2Knews as it was actually called back then?
Yeah, it's been quite a ride! I started in IT in 1979 with VAX mini-computers from DEC. We started W2Knews in 1996 when Microsoft just came out with their enterprise operating system: Windows NT, soon followed by Windows 2000 which the first version of the newsletter was named after. The industry was jumping on the Redmond bandwagon in a major way, noticing that Bill Gates had "bought" DEC's Dave Cutler, the main VMS Operating System architect for a then astounding amount of a million bucks a year.
What was your goal in starting the newsletter back then? What did you hope to accomplish?
Help system administrators to keep their machines and networks up & running with information, news, hints & tips and system admin tools. And of course a few fave links at the end to provide a bit of levity. System admins are usually super busy putting fires out all day long, and do not get a lot of cooperation from other employees who do not understand the computer and network.
What did readers initially like best about your newsletter? Did you experiment with the format and range of topics you would cover?
In the early days, any news was welcome as NT was a whole new platform and there were hardly any 3rd party tools available. We started with a disk quota management tool, and Octopus, which was real-time backup and failover. We surveyed regularly about which sections in the newsletter were needed, wanted or redundant and finally settled on a format we stuck with for more than 10 years.
How did you come up with fresh ideas for your editorials? As I can testify myself, writing a newsletter every week can be challenging even in an industry like IT where things change very rapidly!
Sunbelt was hosting several forums, one of which was the popular NTSYSADMIN list. Topics discussed there were a never ending source of story ideas and interviews. We also had forums about Exchange, Security and other topics that came up over time.
What changes in the IT profession did you see during your long tenure as Editor of WServerNews?
Wow, interesting question. Overall, over the decades, I would think it's fragmented into more and more specializations. 30 years ago you could know pretty much everything about PCs for instance. Today, you need to be a malware reverse engineering specialist to be able to protect endpoints. The same has happened in many other areas. Your only choice is to become a "serial specialist" if you want to keep up, compare it to a triple major in college, and study never ends. But that is also the attraction, never a dull moment!!
That's a good point Stu, there seem to be so many different areas of IT specialization nowadays. It's interesting also that the newsletter has attracted such a wide range of readers over the years. TechGenix did a reader survey shortly after my wife and took over as editors in 2012 and they found that about one-sixth of those who had subscribed to WServerNews were sysadmins, about one-sixth IT managers, about one-sixth consultants, and the remainder split between senior IT staff, network admins, owner-operators, CEOs, CIOs, security analysts, specialists, developers…wow. Congratulations on creating a newsletter that has attracted such a wide range of readers! Any trick how you did it?
That was 15 years of hard work in both the areas of marketing and writing newsletters I'm afraid. In the early days of the Internet when opt-in and opt-out simply did not exist, software developers gave me their customer databases and gave me the OK to send the newsletter to them weekly. And I am still writing a weekly newsletter called Cyberheist News that you can subscribe here:
I'm sure our readers have appreciated all of your hard work over the years! Let's move on though and talk about the future. What do you think are the most significant trends in coming in business computing over the next few years? And how do you think these trends will impact the IT profession as we know it today and especially IT pros who work with the Windows Server platform? Feel free to be wordy here and let us know what you see in your crystal ball...
Hah, I used to do a crystal ball issue once a year, first week of January. That was the shortest newsletter but it was the most work!! First of all, cybercrime and cyberwar are escalating. Many people in large companies, the government and nationwide infrastructure IT are now in the front lines of international hacking attacks sponsored by nation-states. And the rest of us are under constant attack by a very well-funded eastern European cyber mafia.
The irony is that the Windows platform has become the standard, and thus is also the most attacked. Both cybercrime and spy agencies are hoarding hundreds of 0-day threats that they can pluck out of their black bag when they need to get into a network. The biggest change for IT pros that I predict is the change of perspective from: "We can defend against an attack" to "We already have been penetrated; we need to protect the data and get the hackers out". This is a sea change in the way you approach the hacking problem.
What sort of things can IT do if their organization's systems and data has been penetrated? I thought the only answer was to "nuke and pave"?
You need next-generation breach detection. These tools solve, in essence, a classic big-data problem. To be effective, these tools need to analyze a great variety of data in high volume, and at great velocity, to determine potential breaches. Most important, the tools must be precise; too many false positives and their reports will quickly be ignored, which is what happened at Target. A new crop of next-generation startups are working on this, for example:
Fascinating, I'll have to check those out. Let's finish off by letting you tell us about some of the ventures you've been involved with since you stepped down from editing WServerNews. What are you up to these days?
During the 2007-2010 period when we built VIPRE Antivirus, we found out that most malware infections ware caused by the end-user being social engineered. So when Sunbelt was acquired by GFI in 2010, I already had an idea for a new company that would provide "new school" security awareness training, built from the IT security perspective instead of just being checkbox compliant. That was why I started KnowBe4:
and teamed up with former hacker (The World's Most Wanted) Kevin Mitnick to create a brand new way for system admins to keep their users on their toes with security top of mind. Things have gone great with KnowBe4, we are in our third year with almost 20 employees and over 700 enterprise accounts using the training.
Sounds great Steve and good luck on all your future endeavors!
Thanks very much Mitch!
About Stu Sjouwerman
Stu Sjouwerman (pronounced "shower-man") is the founder and CEO ofKnowBe4, LLC, which provides web-based Security Awareness Training (employee security education and behavior management) to small and medium-sized enterprises. A data security expert with more than 30 years in the IT industry, Sjouwerman was the co-founder of Inc 500 company Sunbelt Software, an award-winning anti-malware software company that he and his partner sold to GFI Software in 2010. Realizing that the human element of security was being seriously neglected, Sjouwerman decided to help entrepreneurs tackle cybercrime tactics through advanced security awareness training. KnowBe4 services hundreds of customers in a variety of industries, including highly-regulated fields such as healthcare, finance and insurance and is experiencing explosive growth with a surge of 427% in 2013 alone. Sjouwerman is the author of four books, with his latest being Cyberheist: The Biggest Financial Threat Facing American Businesses.