Q&A: Steve Durbin

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Steve Durbin is a senior security leader at the Information Security Forum (ISF) with a diverse background in both business and technology. He has managed and grown startups to multimillion dollar turnover technology and services enterprises, and been involved with mergers and acquisitions of fast-growth companies across Europe and the USA. Although his career has led him to the information security industry, he graduated with a degree in French and studied for his Chartered Institute of Marketing qualifications before moving into the working world.

What was your route into the information security industry? 
I came into security purely by chance after having been offered the opportunity of working with another industry leader, the late Howard Schmidt, special adviser for cyber space security for the Bush White House, directly following the 9/11 attacks. Howard was the president of the ISF at that time, and the opportunity was to help with the growth of the ISF by introducing new services and member offerings to meet the continually evolving needs of our members. I now oversee the ongoing development of the ISF worldwide. I also sit on the ISF board and so have first-hand input into our strategy and ways of dealing with the ever-complex business world in which we operate.

What’s the best thing about your job?
My job takes me to many interesting locations and I get to share views and ideas with some of the brightest people in the world. However, the best thing about my job is the people; the ISF continues to grow, and in our business that means we need to attract and retain people who both enjoy the challenge of working in a fast paced, dynamic industry and are able to hold the attention and respect of our members. Security is a people business and to be effective we need to create a shared vision for our people that they buy into and support.

What would be your dream security project, and why? 
My dream project would be one that looks at the geopolitical impact of cyber over the next 10 years. As I have frequently stated, the battle for leadership in next generation technologies is steadily growing and this is currently manifesting itself in the beginnings of a potentially globally damaging US/China trade war.

For me, the ways in which cyber and the associated implications of cybersecurity and privacy develop through AI, cloud, smart cities and the IoT will have a significant impact on everyone’s lives. It would seem timely to look at the geopolitical issues related to cyber and cybersecurity in this context. 

What’s the most interesting thing about information security?
It never stands still! It is continually evolving and changing and to be effective we, at the ISF, and our members in their companies, need to be constantly bringing our ‘A game’ to combat the increase in threats and risks.

What would you change about the security industry? 
I would like to see more focus on the role of the individual and greater understanding of the people element of security. All too often, we jump to technology or processes as a means of enabling or ensuring security and miss that people have the ability to be the strongest link in any security chain.

Quick-fire Q&A 

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
An airline pilot.

What’s your favorite film?
Apollo 13.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Single malt whisky – I’m a collector (or a hoarder as my wife would say)

BIO @stevedurbin

Steve Durbin is managing director of the Information Security Forum. His main areas of focus include strategy, information technology, cybersecurity, digitalization and the emerging security threat landscape. Previously, he was senior vice-president at Gartner.

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