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Q&A with Kai Roer, author of The Leaders Workbook

October 8, 2010

Q.  Tell us a bit about you:

I am a European information security practitioner and the author of the success book The Leaders Workbook, already translated into seven languages and sold around the world.

For more information about me you can visit my website.

Q – Tell us a little bit about the titles you write for and their interest in data security:

I usually write for my own blogs only. Occasionally I accept to write for others too.

On the book front, I am currently working on finishing a book on cloud security, where the purpose is not to discuss the technology, but the business sides of things. The book will help decision makers to understand what cloud is, and how it may (or may not) impact their organization and security.

Q – What’s hot in IT security this year?

FUD is hotter than ever! I also find many people forgetting about simple things like client security, it  seems like many believe that cloud takes away the whole client aspect. Obviously, cyber criminals are getting better, and increase their revenue and success every day. Teaching users to avoid the obvious traps, and implementing client security that is non-intrusive should be on the agenda – this year, and the next!

Q – How many security events do you attend each year?

Fewer than one may think. I network and research using Internet mainly, so unless I get invited to speak  or host a workshop, I usually do not go.

Q – Which one are you most looking forward to?

Not a security event, but Junior Chamber International’s World Congress in Osaka, Japan in November. I will launch my latest book The Leaders Workbook there, as well as do my special workshop The Leaders Workshop there. More than 10 000 leaders attend from all over the world.

Q. -What types of stories or companies are likely to attract your attention this year?

I am currently very focused on great leadership. I believe that leaders in organizations are dealing with security constantly – every business decision they make, is based on risk analysis, and cost/benefit analysis. This is no different from security work – at least not from the strategic work I normally do. Also, I focus largely on global matters, like cyber crime, cyber warfare, and the impact of all the people around the world that connects to Internet – what kind of values do they bring, what harm can be expected, who will target them, and how will they they impact the future of communication.

I am also very interested in social media. Especially from a intelligence perspective. Just imagine, twenty years ago, a country’s intelligence (well, spies) had to rely on public sources, social engineering and wast amount of resources – and all they could dream of was to gather a little information about only a very few people. Today, we all (most of us) share willingly details and information they (the spies) would only be dreaming of getting their hands on. And we do this systematically, in automated tools designed to structure, nurture and analyse the information. Most importantly, we do it voluntarily.

Just an example. If a stranger had stopped me on the street and asked me for my plans of the day and week, I would probably do something violent to him/her. Yet, I publish the same information online – for everyone to see. And if you catch me after a meeting, and ask what the outcome was, I would just look at you and laugh – what a stupid question – while at the same time updating my twitter stream with what was done in the meeting.

Q. How many interviews do you do per week?

This last week I did four. It varies from magazines to blogs, radio and TV.

Q – What’s the best way to pitch a story to you? Email? Phone? Twitter? By  mail?

I am old fashioned. Besides, I travel a lot. Email is best. It lets me trash it without any further ado!

Q. – Who is worth listening to?

Many!

Q. – What’s your favourite blog?

May I say my own? Haha

I love layer8 by Shrdlu. Great humor, amazing insights. And geek enough! I do stay away from most company blogs. They tend to be boring and sales-focused only.

Q – What is your favourite piece of technology?

My iPhone. And my future iPad.

Q -What do you think is the most important development in IT security to date?

First the firewall. Then the Fortigate. Obviously the RSA algorithm is important too.

Q – What is the best piece of advice for companies pitching stories?

In general: make them worthwhile. That means (to me): be interesting, be relevant, be on target, do not sell. If you want to sell – then I need a test/demo device I can keep 😀 I love gadgets…

When I work with PR, I always ask myself: What is in it for them (the reader, the journalist).

Q – What was the best press trip you’ve ever been on? Worst? Why?

I don’t do press trips 🙂 My blogs are personal tools for sharing what I care about. I do not consider myself a journalist, nor do I aspire to be one.

Q-  What’s your favourite restaurant?

My kitchen! I love cooking! And not to brag too much, but my friends and family love me cooking too!

Q – Are you a social media lover? Which ones are you on? FB? LinkedIn? Twitter?

YES!!!

On Twitter I’m @kairoer. On Facebook, I have pages and my profile. I’m also on LinkedIn.

Q- Tell us something no one knows about you? Do you have any unusual or unexpected hobbies/interests? Do you have a claim to fame?

A public secret – I am a hobby truck driver. Big lorries, with huge trailers! Oh yea! And – I may wear a kilt in a party if I so choose. Never did, though.

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