As a kid, Craig Williams, Director or Talos Outreach, found computers fascinating and would tinker with them. “An Apple 2GS was my first computer and I remember figuring out how to get the control panel to change the colors in second grade because they made me play Number Munchers and I didn’t like the color scheme,” Williams recalls. “I got in a lot of trouble because none of the teachers knew how to change it back and I just thought that was hilarious, and from then on, I was hooked.”
Fast forward a few decades and Williams still lights up when talking about computers, but now it’s not just fun and games. It’s his passion. Williams is serious about security and if you want to get him fired up, ask him about security stereotypes. “One that always come around is people think that in order to get into cybersecurity, you need to be a criminal. Absolutely not!”
His colleague, Franc Artes, an architect in the Security Business Group, feels exactly the same way. “You meet people and they say things like ‘so you used to break into things, and now you’re doing it legitimately.’ Well no, but thank you very much,” says Artes. “It is a very bad stereotype to see.”
Both Williams and Artes make it their mission to not only help secure Cisco customers, but also stay one step ahead of cybercriminals. In fact, Artes is a reserve detective with law enforcement reserves. “I do a lot of teaching on cybercrime investigation, forensics, and security in general,” says Artes. “If you’re going to catch a cybercriminal, you should know how they break into bank accounts or people’s email accounts, or cell phones.”
See also: Setting the cybersecurity bar higher
Cisco’s Talos Team, the industry-leading threat intelligence group, has seen all kinds of new threats in 2017. Take for example the Nyetya attack. Williams says that’s the type of attack that keeps his team up at night and very different than WannaCry. “If you looked at the way WannaCry worked, WannaCry is alike a 1986 rusty Honda Civic,” Williams explained. “If you look at a Ferrari, that would be Nyetya. Nyetya was polished, fast, and efficient.”
In the 2018 Cisco Annual Cybersecurity Report, attacks like WannaCry and Nyetya exposed how unprepared many businesses are to the evolution of malware.
When attacks like these happen, it’s the job of defenders, people like Williams and Artes, to react and respond quickly. “We’re a lively bunch,” Artes says describing his co-workers. “It’s also an amazing group of individuals, especially within Talos.”