Q&A: Jake Moore

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Eleanor Dallaway meets the cybersecurity industry's Mr Happy at the beach to find out what is responsible for the uncharacteristically British joy he exudes

Describing Jake Moore without using idioms is a task I’m unwilling to take on. He’s a ray of sunshine; he’s a Duracell bunny; he’s a dog with two tails. Jake Moore is living his best life.

Jake and I meet at a beachside restaurant in Bournemouth. Having cyber stalked Jake’s social media, I decided to travel to Jake’s hometown for this interview. Why? It was strikingly apparent that the very essence of Jake is intrinsically woven with his surroundings: the beach; nature; his family. So I figured my best shot at really getting to know Jake was to meet him in his natural habitat. So here I am, at a window table, looking out to somewhat moody skies and a calm sea.

Jake rushes in no more than one or two minutes late, full of the joys of spring, unlike the aforementioned grey sky. He’s firing out apologies and smiles at a rate of knots (I really must slow down with these idioms now.) “I’m so sorry, I messed up the booking. I got confused and thought we were meeting at the office. I’m sorry the weather is rubbish…” Jake is apologizing, but with the biggest grin on his face. It’s not that the apologies are insincere; they’re not – it’s that Jake is always smiling. It’s actually pretty contagious because four hours later when we finally leave the restaurant, I realize my cheek muscles are aching.

“I had it all planned out,” Jake says, mourning the lack of sunshine, “you and I were going to cycle back to the office, all ‘California-esque,’” he grins. It takes only seconds for Jake to declare his love for Dorset. “I do a weekly sea swim, I was going to suggest you and I did that today, actually,” he says, laughing at my horror. “I’ve always loved the beach.”

It’s the first time Jake and I have ever met, but it doesn’t take long for me to map out Jake’s passions. In no particular order, Jake loves his family, cybersecurity, Dorset, the beach, water sports and his friends. To say he’s wholesome would be an understatement.

Jake parted ways with Dorset briefly when he attended Kingston University. “It wasn’t much of a university experience because I came home every weekend as I missed the beach so much,” he says. Jake grew up in Dorset, went to school with his wife, his family is all still in the area and no doubt raising his children (aged six and nine) in Dorset lands him exactly where he’s meant to be. “This is the happiest time of my life. I’m 40, I’m in my dream job and I’m so very lucky.” That’s right now, but in the words of Coldplay, “let’s take it back to the start.”


One of my favorite parts of these profile interviews is asking about my interviewee’s younger self. It’s always interesting and often predictable, and Jake’s answer falls into both categories. “I was outdoorsy, loved school, had great friends, enjoyed being on the beach and skateboarding.” Academically? “I was a classic middle-of-the-road C student,” admits Jake, this part less predictable. “Music was my only A grade. I played saxophone and piano.”

Despite studying mathematics and statistics at university, Jake was less than enamored with the subject. “I hated math, but I was OK at it, so that’s why I did it.” On further analysis, Jake adds, “I am methodical, and I like to keep to patterns.

“With six months left of my degree, my mum told me I had to find something I loved. I joked that I loved bank robberies, and she told me I couldn’t be a bank robber, so she suggested I join the police to learn how to stop them.”

Jake recalls applying for nine jobs at the police, in all types of roles. “How many interviews do you think I got?” he asks, and before I get a chance to take a guess, he answers for me: zero.

“One day, I got a phone call from the head of human resources at the police, offering me a role as a filing assistant, paying £10,000 a year on the agreement that if I took it, I’d promise to stop sending my CV in. So I asked when I could start!” We’re both laughing; Jake enamored with the memory. “I started four days later. I was so excited, I went in searching for criminals, but instead they handed me a load of paperwork to file.”

Less optimistic characters, at this stage, might have felt frustrated, disheartened or even defeated, but not Jake. On the contrary, Jake was elated that his persistence had paid off. “In the police canteen, I wanted to know everyone, so I’d sit down at different tables and ask people what they did. I was so enthusiastic, so excited.” One day in the canteen, Jake unknowingly sat himself down at the Chief of Police’s table and asked him what he did! Many would have been embarrassed to discover this faux pas, but not Jake. Instead, he recalls, “I was on cloud nine. I told him I wanted to learn everything, so he asked me if I had spare time in my filing job.” Later that day, he asked to see Jake. “There were two of them in the office. They said they needed someone to analyze their crimes – put the data together to find patterns, look at maps, graphs and discover trends. I said I’d like nothing more.

“At this point, I didn’t even have an email address. I was just there to file!” laughs Jake. He may not have had an email address, but he did have a badge with his name and ‘file supervisor’ written on it. “So I crossed it out and wrote ‘FBI,’” he admits, “I honestly didn’t realize what an idiot I was!” At this point in the story, we’re halfway through our lunch, but I have to put down my knife and fork out of fear that I’m going to choke on my fish and chips as I’m laughing so much. Jake’s self-deprecation is so endearing, and I’m charmed by his willingness to divulge these tales.

He may have been acting the clown in some respects, but his work was no joke. “I produced my first report, and they lapped it up. There was a position as a crime analyst in the intelligence department with ex-cops. They were quite scary,” Jake recalls. He moved into that role and now looks back on it fondly. “I had so much time with the robbery and burglary squads. A guy there, Detective Sergeant Neil Phillips, taught me about everything, including how to talk in police language. I still love him for it and thank him now.”

My Big Break

Two to three years into his tenure at the police, Jake got what he calls his “big break.” The police were forming a high-tech crime unit (now named the Digital Forensics Unit), and despite having only taken one computing module in his math degree, his trustworthy nature and aptitude earned him an analyst role. “They sent me on loads of training courses – I happily did every one under the sun,” he recalls, and I wonder whether Jake has ever done anything unhappily! “Ethical hacking, digital forensics, you name it. [The police] would not buy you a pack of biscuits, but they’d spend thousands on training courses,” he laughs.

Jake recognizes this role as a turning point. “Things started to get serious, and I had to tone down the stupidity.” Was that time to get rid of the FBI badge? I tease, “absolutely,” grins Jake. He spent nine years in that department, the last two as head of digital forensics. He talks about that job with such joy and pride, “every job I’ve had has been my dream job,” he gushes. “I couldn’t believe I got that role. I absolutely loved it. I did it for society, and adored being in court, the satisfaction of putting people away.”

Although still within the police family, his next step was as a cybercrime protect officer in the cybercrime unit of Dorset Police. It was a new role, backed and funded by the Home Office, to advise companies and the public on all things cybercrime. You’ll be unsurprised to learn that Jake loved this role, too. “It was incredible! I learned more, spoke to cybercrime victims and went into respected companies that really wanted advice and help. I couldn’t believe they’d want to hear from me!” He’s reluctant to apply the term ‘imposter syndrome’ here, but we agree that the sentiment is similar.

It’s easy to imagine how well-received Jake would have been by these companies and communities as he applies such enthusiasm and passion to absolutely everything he talks about and everything he does. The idiom ‘breath of fresh air’ springs to mind.

Rabbit in Headlights

Chatting to Jake, you’d be forgiven for assuming his life has played out like some kind of movie. He married his childhood sweetheart, Hayley. He embodies the perfect 2.4 children by the sea. Every job he has had has been a “dream,” and he smiles at the same rate that most people inhale oxygen. Is it all rainbows and butterflies, though? Actually, it pretty much is. Although he has had his fair share of rom-com cringe moments, take the ‘FBI’ badge, for example. 

"Every job I've had has been my dream job"

There was also the first day of this new cybercrime protect officer role,” Jake half cringes, half laughs. “On my first day, ITV turned up to interview me, and let’s just say I was unprepared. I was wearing a tie for the first time since school, and I was very much rabbit in headlights.” So much so that his friends made a meme out of him and recirculate it annually. “I overheard the journalist saying [to his colleague] that if he has to ask me the same question three times, how on earth can he trust me to know what I’m talking about.” Today, Jake is a frequent commentator on national TV, radio and in the press – both trade and national. He’s a pro, and that rabbit in headlights incident was a moment in time, albeit one that his friends will never let him forget.

Jake reflects fondly on that role, arguably a gateway into his current job. “I’d never met the public before that role. I couldn’t get away from some companies, they wanted more and more information, and that thirst for my insight suddenly gave me confidence.” He mapped Dorset and went to every corner twice. “I visited small businesses, big corporates, the Women’s Institute, law firms, you name it. Everyone was being attacked, and I was becoming trusted as I was providing unbiased knowledge. I wasn’t selling anything, I was just selling security [as a concept], and I wanted people to love it as much as I did.”

Jake came across ESET while searching for Dorset businesses he hadn’t yet paid a visit to. “I was worried I’d get laughed out of the business,” he remembers. At the same time, he immediately identified ESET as a company he longed to work for. “It’s a global cybersecurity company with best-in-breed tech and an HQ in Bournemouth,” he tells me, his eyes lighting up.

With this realization, many would have simply sent in a CV. Again, it will come as no surprise that Jake does not fall into the category of many. He didn’t even go one better. Incredibly, Jake started the Dorset Cyber Alliance with the council, targeting key stakeholders including the council, police and, you guessed it, ESET. “I pitched it to Malcolm Tuck, ESET’s UK managing director, inviting him to the launch event. I needed him to know who I was because I wanted to work for him.

“I spent a year liking his posts, monitoring my likes, basically grooming him,” admits Jake, grinning, “then in February 2018, I invited him out for coffee and delivered a proposal – I could build ESET’s brand and trust. He gave me three weeks to pull together a presentation to pitch to the global chief sales officer, warning me that I wouldn’t make him laugh.” It’s hardly a spoiler to tell you that Jake got the job, and, you guessed it, also made him laugh. “When he asked if I had any questions, I asked if there was somewhere, I could hang up my cycling clothes as I’d be cycling to the office. Apparently, he was more expecting questions about the future of the business or something professional,” says Jake.

Cycling clothes sorted, Jake was given the job, and he set about writing his own job specification. It was always going to take something special to lure him away from the police, and what could be more special than designing and bringing to life your own dream job?

Jake frequently refers to the police as a family, a safety blanket and a workplace in which it is incredibly difficult to leave, although he knew his days were numbered due to “needing more money.

“No one leaves,” he tells me. Yet, he did. Judging by the grin that lives permanently rent-free on his face, he doesn’t regret it a single bit. That said, he starts to well up just thinking about how hard it was to leave the police “and all of the people who got me where I am today.”

Between roles, Jake spent a heavenly six weeks on the beach, taking his children to school and enjoying an atypical heatwave. “It didn’t rain once,” he recalls, “it just felt right. It was the happiest time of my life.”

Right Place, Right Crime

Jake’s job title is global cybersecurity advisor, which he describes, in a sentence, as being about building trust and figuring out how to make people understand cybersecurity and, more importantly, how to care.

He calls the litmus test for whether people will care about his messaging ‘The Hayley Test.’ “If it’s something that I can make my wife care about, understand and want to action, then I’m onto something.”

Relatability is a prime focus of Jake’s work. “True stories hit home, so all of my blogs are based on reality, and I spend months perfecting them. I want people to read it, and I want it to work – I’m passionate about preventing crime, which comes from my police time.”

Four years into his role at ESET, Jake is still pinching himself. “I can’t believe I’ve got this lucky,” he says, “I’ve always just been at the right place at the right time. My friend said if I ever write a book, the title should be ‘Right Place, Right Crime.’” This is the perfect bridge to my next question: Would you ever write a book?

“No, because no one would read it apart from my mum, and she’d have proofread it!” he jokes. His parents are his biggest cheerleaders, always telling him how proud they are when Jake pops up in the news. It’s apparent how much this means to him.

He attributes his luck to always saying yes to opportunity. “Luck and opportunity go hand in hand. I take every opportunity, say yes to everything and go around with a smile on my face.” I can testify to that. It has been challenging not to write ‘Jake smiled’ and ‘Jake laughed’ after every quote. It would get boring to read, but I can promise you it would be true.

From the moment he wakes each day, which by the way, is always 5am (he wakes naturally without an alarm), until lights out at night (which is by 10pm each day without fail), Jake is living his best life. “I’ve got my dream house, dream wife, dream job, dream location. Why rock the boat?” Jake responds when I ask him what the next chapter looks like. “ESET is my next chapter,” he says, unwavering. “I do what I do, and I get from it what I want. I lead an easy life, and I get to help people.”

There’s a secondary motivation for staying with ESET, though. “Right now, my job at the police is only one job away. I need that because it allows me to earn people’s trust. If that role were two jobs away, it wouldn’t have the same effect,” he muses.

No Place I’d Rather Be

Jake’s proudest achievement comes to him without hesitation. “Doing a headstand on my surfboard,” he grins.

As for future goals, he has two: breaking into a bank (legally, he adds); and proper happiness. I think it’s fair to say the latter is already in the bag. “As the saying goes, if you do what you love, you don’t work a day in your life, and I certainly love what I do.”

Four hours after we met for lunch, the waitress tells us they’re about to close. “Well, you’ve got 20 years of story right there,” Jake says, pointing at my notebook, pages deep in notes. “It has been wild.”

If Jake’s life were a movie, as I suggested earlier in the article, I imagine the credits rolling with Jake surfing the waves and Clean Bandit’s ‘No place I’d rather be’ playing. Why? Because if one thing is apparent when meeting this idiom-inducing beach boy, he’s exactly where he should be in life, and he loves every moment. Here’s to infosec’s Mr Happy, a man on top of the world!

How to Break Into a Police Station

Shortly after joining ESET, Jake was given permission to break into a police station and compromise an account with a real-life ‘get out of jail free’ card. Here’s how he did it:

  1. “Three weeks of preparation including which station to compromise, what to wear, who might recognize me. I decided to dress like a detective, with a lanyard but no badge and a big box covering the blank lanyard.”
  2. “I walked to the lift, but you needed a key to make it work. A guy walked out of the lift, and I gave him eye contact, said hey, so he tapped his key for me and sent me up to the third floor.”
  3. “The internal door pad key access is turned off between 8 and 4 every day. Someone I used to know saw me, said I couldn’t be there unchaperoned on my own and took me back to the foyer. I needed a new plan, so I walked up the stairs, and by using my box and pretending to be on the phone, people held open the door.”
  4. “I was now in the office full of uniformed cops. I left the box and went for a wander. I saw all the police car keys hanging up. I regret not stealing one – how many times could you say you’ve stolen a police car?”
  5. “I found a bank of laptops, took one and walked off to find a meeting room. The BitLocker key was on the sticker on the bottom of the laptop.”
  6. “After getting through the encryption on the laptop, I socially engineered the IT Helpdesk into convincing them I was the head of professional standards and was given access to his account. I guessed his collar number from his Twitter username.”
  7. “I changed the password to ‘JakeIsAwesome.’ I then had full access to every crime, suspect, victim and police officer’s personal data.”

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