Superman and General Zod - Q and A with Stewart Room


Q and A with SC Congress London speaker, Stewart Room.

What was your first job? I had a paper round from 11, and when I was 15 I started working in Tescos on the Deli counter, two evenings a week and all day Saturday. I can still cut a piece of cheese to within an atom of the target weight.

What do you think most people imagine your job as? Many people think that I spend most of my time fire fighting regulatory investigations following security breaches. Obviously, I do a lot of that, but I do more work helping organisations to avoid legal non-compliance. My 8-year-old daughter thinks I'm a policeman.

If you were to describe yourself as a household object, what would it be? I would have to be a guitar, only because I'm an avid collector. I have about 30 Fenders and Gibsons in my study, distracting me from more profitable endeavours.

What would your last meal be? Big Mac and fries, simply because I've been on a fitness kick since the New Year and I keep dreaming about them. Or maybe a bacon buttie.

If the battle between IT security pros and cyber threats were to be embodied in comic book characters, what classic super hero/nemesis match-up do you think would be most fitting? It's a classic Superman and General Zod. 

If you had to have an occupation other than the one you're doing, what would you do? I'd be a painter. I was going to do a fine art degree, but my parents put their foot down at the last minute and made me do a “proper” degree. I read law to spite them. Yes, I know that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Have you ever heard a good joke about IT security? I haven't. But I still like “what's brown and sticky?”
“A stick”. Gets me all the time.

What is the most important personality trait for a successful cyber security professional? Intellectual curiosity and humility. If you think you know it all and that the bad guys are clowns, you're toast. Guess what I regularly uncover when I'm handling security breaches. Yep, you've got it.

What technology did you used to rely on, and are now happy is obsolete? I had an early Ericsson PDA type smart phone. It was hopeless, but it cost me an arm and a leg, so I just persisted with it. I dropped in into a can of gloss paint while decorating. That was truly liberating and so I bought a Filofax. Now, they are awesome!

What is the best career advice you ever received? “Luke, use the force.”

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