Q&A: Lisa Forte

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Lisa Forte is an expert in the human side of cybersecurity and social engineering. She is well known for communicating engaging insight on various security-related topics based on her personal experiences of dealing with cybercrime. Lisa is an avid reader, a keen mountaineer with ambitions of climbing Mount Everest next year and enjoys practicing aerial circus trapeze skills.

She describes herself as an active person who likes experiencing everything life has to offer – the more adventure the better! Alongside her day-to-day work, Lisa also hosts a popular vlog, Rebooting, and has appeared in several documentary films. She is currently filming a TV series for a large network.

How did you get into the information security field? 
I started my security career working for private armed security companies putting armed guards on merchant vessels to protect them from Somali pirates. I then moved into UK counter-terrorism, and then into one of the UK Police cybercrime units. I co-founded Red Goat three years ago and we provide social engineering and cyber-expertise to companies around the world.

What’s the best thing about your job, and what’s the worst thing?
I love working with a client to design a cyber-crisis exercise. It is like directing a movie and it is great to see it all come together. The worst thing about my job relates to my large online profile. The online trolling can sometimes be overwhelming – it is usually directed at my appearance, which can be tough to endure.

What’s the most misunderstood thing about information security?
In the eyes of the public, I think it is that Vladimir Putin himself is essentially sat in the Kremlin trying to hack your eBay account. The reality of information security is simply that most of it revolves around organized crime groups. This is a dangerous misunderstanding, because I’ve heard even medium-sized businesses say “well why would the Russian state try to hack me?” They wouldn’t, but organized crime groups would!

If you could change one thing about the infosec sector, what would it be?
For more people and organizations to aim for progress, and not perfection. Too much of what we do and discuss is about trying to reach a perfect solution. Getting people to take any positive security steps is progress and should be celebrated.

Quick-Fire Q&A 

What’s your favorite film?
I’m torn between Troll Hunter (Norwegian film) and Parasite (the South Korean Oscar-winning film).

What’s your pet peeve?
Pineapple on pizza. As an Italian, this is akin to a war crime. The other one I have is the unnecessary overuse of the Reply All button. 

Who do you admire most in the industry?
I admire two people who have mentored me and been phenomenal friends: Chris Hadnagy and Graham Cluley. 

Bio: Lisa Forte is a partner at Red Goat Cyber Security and one of the co-founders of the Cyber Volunteers 19 initiative.

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