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Interview: Javvad Malik

Javvad Malik, perhaps equally known as @J4VV4D or one of the three Host Unknown musketeers, wanted to be an actor when he grew up. More specifically, a wise-cracking side-kick, or a menacing villain. Instead, he’s a security advocate at AlienVault, where his job is to make information security as accessible and understandable to as broad an audience as possible. Whilst there may not be a red carpet, he finds it “immensely rewarding to see how we help secure organizations”.

If you could work with any client on any project, who and what would it be?

It would be to have the opportunity to work with Elon Musk on, well, anything he’s working on. He’s one of those guys that is really pushing boundaries, and any project would be an awesome learning experience. I am a strong believer that one can learn a great deal working with experts who work in completely different fields.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I get to work and interact with some very smart people. I’m very fortunate to be part of a team that places a lot of trust in each other, which really helps all of us to do the best we can. This is my first time working at a vendor organization, and it feels immensely rewarding to see how we help secure organizations. I don’t think I ever got that same feeling of satisfaction when I was working in enterprises.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Winning the security blogger awards for best video blogger. It may not seem like much, but I went through many challenges to start blogging (including being effectively forced out of a job), so gaining that level of recognition from my peers meant a great deal to me.

What’s your biggest regret?

Not finding a mentor early in my career. It meant I spent many years going through the motions without specific direction. I believe finding a mentor (or even several mentors) can really help one define career objectives and make a plan on how to achieve them. Infosec in particular is such a vast discipline that it can be easy to get lost in the maze.

If you could change one thing about the information security sector, what would it be?

I think I’d like to rebrand the whole image of infosec. Take it out of the hoodie-wearing, basement-dwelling, ADHD-suffering, borderline criminal organization that whinge and complain, or just say “no”. I wish it would stop being an industry that tells people how broken everything is, and instead tells people how to fix things.

What’s the most misunderstood thing about information security?

The concept that everything is a technological problem, and that everything can be solved by technology. Many issues are behavioral issues, or related to how businesses are setup. It is frustrating when I see people try to address issues from a purely technical perspective, for example, saying that using x, y, or z tool will help protect privacy without teaching the basics of how one can act in a more private manner.

Bio

The man, the myth, the blogger; Javvad Malik is a London-based IT security professional. Better known as an active blogger, event speaker and industry commentator who is possibly best known as one of the industry’s most prolific video bloggers. Prior to joining AlienVault, Javvad was a senior analyst with 451 Research providing technology vendors, investors and end users with strategic advisory services, including competitive research and go-to-market positioning.

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