Q&A: Misha Glenny

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Misha Glenny’s dream job is to be foreign secretary, with full access to classified SIS (MI5, MI6, GCHQ) reports, “but without the tedium of having to get elected every four years.” He may be an acclaimed writer, but his mastermind subject would be The Archers...

What would your dream assignment be?

I would genuinely like to head to Ukraine and report from Kyiv, but probably not from the front line (been there, done that and it’s not fun. In fact, it’s nuts).

Biggest regret?

When I recorded the first series in my ‘How to Invent a Country’ podcast, I didn’t write an accompanying book. If I had, I’m confident I could have begun a big series of best-selling books.

How has journalism evolved?

Hackers, citizen reporters and investigative journalists have combined to expose some enormous crimes and suffocating corrupt practices. The great Bellingcat, for example, uncovered the perpetrators of the Salisbury Poisonings in 2018, even naming the GRU (Russian military intelligence) agents involved – that would never have happened before internet technologies became widespread.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Watching the first episode of McMafia on BBC1 on Sunday January 31 2017.

Tell us about a time you screwed up

I had driven 17 hours from Vienna to reach the Bulgarian-Romanian border just before Christmas Day 1989. As I was about to enter Romania, where the dictator Ceausescu was about to be deposed and summarily executed, a car covered in blood with the corpse of a Belgian TV journalist entered Bulgaria from Romania. When I saw the blood and the body, I chickened out and turned the car around without making it to witness Ceausescu’s downfall.

Quick-fire Q&A:

  • Best thing about your job? Having no idea where it will lead you.
  • Worst thing about your job? Having no idea where it will lead you.

  • Most important lesson? Getting angry and stressed is almost always a complete waste of time.

  • Who do you really admire in infosec? Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer, F-Secure.

  • Surprise us!? I haven’t missed an episode of The Archers in 50 years.

  • What’s your guilty secret? Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate with Daim pieces.

Misha Glenny will be speaking on the keynote stage at Infosecurity Europe on Tuesday June 21 at 15:10. Register at: www.infosecurityeurope.com

Bio: Misha Glenny is an author, journalist and specialist in organized crime, cybersecurity and Eastern and Southeastern Europe. He served as Central Europe correspondent for The Guardian and the BBC. His acclaimed book McMafia was adapted into a BBC drama of the same title.

Follow Misha:  @MishaGlenny

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