Five minutes with DarkMatter's Alan White

Arabian Computer News delves below the corporate strategy to find out what really makes the region’s IT leaders tick

Tags: Cyber crimeDarkMatter (https://www.darkmatter.ae/)United Arab Emirates
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Five minutes with DarkMatter's Alan White Alan White, Vice President of Cyber Advisory Services, DarkMatter.
By  Staff Writer Published  December 28, 2017

How did you come to be in your current role?

I was living in Japan building and leading cyber security teams there, Australia and the UK for my previous employer. That experience built on my interest to work in a global setting. My current role in the Middle East is an excellent way to expand my experience while contributing to the development of this sector.

What is your management philosophy?

I like the quote, “Part of a healthy ambition is the desire to achieve excellence as a practitioner of your craft.” Often when I hire people to join the team, the common response for their interest in speaking with us is, “I want a new challenge.” My leadership philosophy is to create an environment in which I can build a team that embraces the challenges of their craft while helping the business become safer from cyber security threats.

What was your first computer, and when did you first use it?

The Radio Shack Tandy 1000EX and used it in middle school to write my first computer programme.

What is your greatest achievement?

While working in cyber security and cyber defence it became obvious that there was a shortage of books on how to build a cyber security defence team that understood how to respond to cyber incidents effectively. After years of cataloguing my own tactics, techniques and procedures I took the next step and put all that knowledge and experience into a book, the Blue Team Field Manual. This accomplishment is truly meaningful when I hear or meet people who provide positive feedback on how the book has helped them in their cyber role.

What was the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

Policy writing in an academic environment.  Higher education is a challenging environment to balance open research with cyber security. Writing the university’s first security policy was challenging from the perspective of creating a security framework, which would ultimately protect the researchers and students, while also meeting the high writing standard of academia. It took lots of meetings, case building and iterative rewording.

What is your fondest memory of working in the Middle East industry?

When you first start working here, the greatest thing that stands out is the cultural mix.  The team I work with represents over a dozen nationalities and that diversity is even wider across the overall organisation. It is fascinating to have so many cyber security perspectives and experiences to leverage to the benefit of our clients.

What technology do you think will have the biggest impact on the market in 2018?

I think drone technology combined with renewable energy may have a significant impact. These technologies have not yet reached their full potential. There are many user cases for drones; from checking the temperature and conditions of soil on farms, to public safety, and even mundane tasks such as litter collection. This technology can have a massive impact on our modern society.

What’s the best way to deal with stress?

Turn off social media, and all multimedia for portions of your day.

PERSONAL

Nationality: American
Number of years in the industry: 22
Favourite food: I lived in Japan for six years and Sushi would have to be my choice.
Holiday destination: Maldives, looks relaxing.
Music: Spanish guitar
Dream car: Lotus
Gadget: Amazon Echo
Movie/book: Tristan and Iseult, classic romantic tragedy

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