“Life Gets More Complicated With Time — So Take Risks When You’re Young” Words of Wisdom with Joseph Steinberg
“Life gets more complicated with time — so take risks when you are young. It is a lot easier to start a business before you are married and have children, than when you have several teenagers counting on you.”
I had the pleasure to interview Joseph Steinberg, a Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies Advisor, and Prominent Tech Influencer
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I have been interested in computers and technology since my parents signed me up for a summer computer class when I was 8 years old. My interest in cybersecurity emerged from curiosity — I wondered how systems’ various security features — for example, protection against illegal copying or protection against students viewing or changing grades in a school system — were able to do what they did. Often I would challenge myself to figure out ways to defeat such mechanisms — and to create ways to prevent anyone from defeating them as such. My initial interest in security and new technologies ultimately evolved and blossomed into decades of professional experience and expertise; today I advise companies in the areas of cybersecurity, blockchain, and other emerging technologies.
Can you share the funniest of most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?
I have many funny stories — most of which I cannot share due to confidentiality requirements — but, what I do find among them that is, perhaps, most interesting, shareable, and simultaneously both funny and sad, is that you would probably be amazed at how many times information security professionals find breaches occurring as a result of someone actually using the word “password” or “1234” as a password. Even on critically important systems.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Essentially, everything that we do in the information-security field is to bring goodness to the world, as our ultimate goal is to protect good, innocent people from nefarious parties who would harm them.
Personally, I have also worked on trying to make people’s lives easier, and to reduce what is now known as “cybersecurity fatigue.” After major breaches, many folks in the media broadcast the oft-repeated advice to “reset all passwords” — but, following such advice is time consuming and extremely inconvenient. I don’t want people to waste time and deal with aggravation; hence, I analyze breaches, and often am able to tell people that the real-life risks are minimal — so they do not need to do anything other than go on with their lives. Providing practical advice of this sort not only makes peoples’ lives easier, but it also reduces the risk of folks ignoring advice to change passwords when doing so is actually necessary.
If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?
1. Have the passion to help people stay secure — if you don’t feel passionately about information security, the field is probably not for you. Infosec is stressful, and successful professionals must constantly keep learning, and must never let their guard down. If you love that type of environment, great. If not, I suggest finding another field.
2. Remain curious — Curiosity often leads to the discovery of vulnerabilities, as well as the creation of new approaches and technologies.
3. Understand that change is constant — Technologies, attack techniques, and regulations change constantly, and the fact that change is constant must be part of an information security professional’s mindset.
4. Listen, learn, and study — the only way to be current is to keep learning.
5. Get certified — Credentials show prospective employers that you have a certain degree of knowledge and can set you apart from others, especially early in your career.
Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful?
There are too many people to name individually in this piece… Members of my family, professors, coaches, friends, and early career managers who both gave me opportunities and made me think bigger than I would have otherwise. Everyone has people in his or her life who believes in him or her; successful folks believe in those people, rather than in the many detractors from whom one is sure to hear as well.
So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?
As, a Cybersecurity, Blockchain, & Emerging Technologies Advisor, I am lucky enough to both advise multiple companies, and to be involved with multiple truly exciting projects, too many to go into detail here. Overall my primary interests are in cybersecurity, blockchain, and other emerging technologies — and in helping younger companies in these areas succeed. Two of my major projects include serving as the Chief Security Advisor at Gladius — which is revolutionizing the way the world combats denial of service attacks, and SecureMySocial, which I founded and which offers patented technology that warns people if they are making potentially problematic social media posts. On my website people can read about the other cool projects on which I am working, and the companies to which I am advising and consulting — so check out: www.JosephSteinberg.com.
As a columnist, I am also passionate about spreading information about information security, and helping people stay safe in today’s digital world. My work has appeared in many venues — I spent six years at Forbes and Inc. covering topics related to cybersecurity, blockchain, and emerging technologies — my column now appears on my website. I also continue to write thought leadership pieces for multiple leading technology companies including IBM, Microsoft, and others, and review technology products and other items that I believe will be useful for my audience. I frequently share relevant information on social media — you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and musical.ly — and am working on a video series as well.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Do not be afraid to go out on your own — Younger workers are sometimes in awe of more experienced colleagues. Remember that everyone was once a novice, and that there is no reason that over time you cannot become as big an expert as anyone else.
2. Life gets more complicated with time — so take risks when you are young. It is a lot easier to start a business before you are married and have children, than when you have several teenagers counting on you.
3. Everyone has a brand, and everyone is responsible for their message. So, make sure you have an online “business card” — you can be the biggest expert in some field, but, if nobody knows how to find you or that you consult, you will not build a successful business. (Of course, make sure your that your online presence reflects what you want people to think about you. People wrecking their careers by making embarrassing social media posts is one of the reasons that I created SecureMySocial).
4. Get yourself a mentor or coach — schools do not teach you how to build a career, so learn from someone who has successfully built one that you admire. Why not learn from other people’s wise decisions — and from their mistakes.
5. Build via one stepping stone at a time: Building a successful business is much harder than you realize, but with hard work, you can make steady progress and succeed.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. :-)
I would love to have a private lunch with Bill Gates. Our conversation would be about not only technology, but also his efforts to make the world a better place. I would love to partner with him, and to help make an impact.