Real Editor Meets Guest Editor: Q&A with Tracy Z. Maleeff

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What is your favorite thing about Infosecurity Magazine?

I appreciate the wide-range of topics and the variety of offerings – from blogs to articles to white papers to webinars. I like that the content is written and presented in such a way that people both in and outside the Information Security industry can get value from it. Most of all, I love the fact that the editor is a woman who was an English Literature major. That really resonates with me. 

If your job as Guest Editor of Infosecurity became permanent, what new content stream would you introduce?

I would introduce a feature that I would call, “How Do I Explain This to Laypeople?” Meaning, bullet points of big information security news items (like breaches or ransomware) that can explain the situation in a FUD-free, and non-technical way. Cultivating security awareness is crucial and sometimes infosec pros may need some help. Some people are so technically skilled that they may honestly forget how to explain these incidents in a low-tech sort of way. Give industry pros a resource they can use to help people, even they themselves are too tired, stressed, or confused to explain it on their own. 

How do you describe to your (non-industry) friends what your job is all about?

I say that I troubleshoot problems using a combination of research, interpersonal, and tech skills, and that we often have cake. 

What makes you really angry about our industry?

Harassment or intimidation of people, either online or in person. 

What gives you hearts in your eyes?

Seeing the community come together to help one another. People offering advice, teaching, lending an ear, or just answering questions in a non-judgmental way. 

What’s the best conference talk/keynote/seminar you’ve ever attended?

The keynote talk that made the most profound impact on me was at BSides Charm 2016. Micah Hoffman gave a talk entitled, “Top 10 Mentor Tips: How to Join the InfoSec Community.” In a review I wrote about the conference, I likened his talk to a church revival meeting. He was invigorating, exciting, and enlightening. His tips helped me to understand what I was doing right and what I still needed to work on to become a gainfully employed member of the infosec community. 

What Infosec technology could you not live without?

Does Twitter count as an Infosec technology? It is a valuable source of information. I use it for professional networking, learning, and as an industry news source. My Infosec game would be severely impeded without it. 

What’s your dream Infosec job?

Honestly, I feel like I have it now. When I was making my career change into infosec, I wanted a job where I could use my skills from my librarian career while having endless learning opportunities. I get to do a variety of tasks and interact with people to help them with security. Taking initiative is encouraged, so I feel like it is a great environment for learning, growing, and working. 

If you could have founded any information security vendor, which would you choose?

I suppose ZeroFOX because of their work with social media. I was an early adopter of Twitter and have given many talks over the years on how to craft advanced research on social media platforms. Social media and security are a good combination of my interests. 

What is the biggest unresolved information security challenge?

Solving the problem of, to quote the great Wendy Nather: “The security poverty line.” Many schools, organizations, and small businesses just cannot afford staff or high-priced systems for data protection. They get left behind and become the most vulnerable.

For consumers, the equivalent would be disadvantaged persons and those who fall into the digital divide who are off the industry’s radar for awareness training. If Net Neutrality is dissolved, this crevasse will increase exponentially. Security should be for everyone.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Baking shows and cookbooks. I like cooking shows, too, but baking shows are what really melts my butter. (Pun intended.) Cooking is art; baking is science. I have a modest growing cookbook collection. I like to re-watch old episodes of “The Great British Bake Off.” Mary Berry is my spirit animal. 

What’s your favourite Christmas movie?

Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

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