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When hackers are good for business—with Stephen Kho from Avast

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Phoebe Goh

On this week’s episode of “Go Your Way,” Darnell and I are joined by Stephen Kho. Stephen has a fascinating job: He’s the global leader of the Red Team at Avast, leaders in antivirus, anti-malware, and privacy. The Red Team consists of hackers who are good guys (and gals): They test, and hack, all the Avast products to ensure that they find any potential faults before more malicious hackers do!

For Stephen, “resilience” is key, and that’s provided through three things:

  • Understanding of your environment, systems, and applications
  • Situational awareness through security monitoring and access logging
  • Simulation of potential events through tabletop scenarios and exercises

As Stephen says, “You will always find surprises because no organization[s]… are perfect. You always find things you didn’t know were there."

The power of having a Red Team is undeniable, because they stress-test all parts of your organization. They simulate ransomware attacks, bypass existing security through social engineering, and test the latest (and some of the not-so-latest) tools that are available to dangerous users out there. In fact, Stephen says that zero-day exploits are probably less likely than easy bugs and vulnerabilities that haven’t been patched yet.

Finally, we talk about how security plays a major role in digital transformation. Stephen discusses the challenges that organizations face as they start to use hybrid multicloud, and how a lack of diligence around security can create huge financial problems even during the initial stages of a transformation, such as mergers and acquisitions.

It’s a risky business, but that’s why we have “good” hackers like the Red Team to help us understand where our weaknesses are and get them fixed before the bad guys do!

Learn more

To listen to the whole podcast, visit the Go Your Way channel.

Phoebe Goh

Phoebe has forged a career bringing people and technology together. From humble beginnings as a Linux system administrator through to leading new initiatives as a Principal Architect, she’s continuously sought to identify common ground, solve problems, and continuously grow her knowledge. From working with government to financial services, through small and large organizations, Phoebe has been instrumental in delivering modern technology outcomes.

Phoebe strives to improve diversity in tech, by both supporting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging initiatives, and by being a positive role model for those in or entering IT. She is a Principal Technical Evangelist at NetApp.

View all Posts by Phoebe Goh

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