The security industry today is mourning the death of security expert, mentor and Infidel President/CEO Rebecca “Becky” Bace, who passed away Tuesday.
Julian Waits, president and CEO of SAIFE, called Bace "both a maverick and a catalyst for women in cybersecurity" in a Tuesday tweet, joining many of her friends and colleagues who remembered her for her expertise, sense of humor and famed "Curmudgeon Dinner."
Widely respected as a security technology expert, author and entrepreneur, Bace was a venture consultant for Trident Capital and a long-time chief strategist of the Center for Forensics, Information Technology and Security – an organization designed to promote the advancement of knowledge related to the study and application of digital forensics and information technology security and assurance that is supported in part by the School of Computing of the University of South Alabama.
In 2014, SC Media lauded Bace as an important leader in its inaugural Women in Security issue. Bace was a pioneer in cybersecurity research and an early information security program manager, directing research in information security for the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1980s and 1990s. Specifically, she worked in the research division of the NSA's National Computer Security Center and was program manager for intrusion detection research. Her programs focused on transferring research into the fledgling commercial security products market – a perspective forced on real problems and adversaries encountered by operational security folks.
She left NSA in the mid-1990s, served as an operational security manager for a national laboratory, then went to Silicon Valley where she worked in the early security product and services market. She then started security-specialty consulting firm Infidel and worked with Trident Capital as a venture consultant, overseeing the formation and growth of their security investment portfolio, while serving as an adviser to a number of startups, all in the information security field.
"Perhaps the most critical role of leadership in managing security is to understand what has transpired in the past, enforcing a movement toward better security over time," Bace told SC in 2014, especially at national and industry levels where standards are formed and enforced.
The second role of leadership, Bace told us, is to reflect the understanding that any standard security approach must be well fitted to the operational context to which it is applied. "This is key to optimizing the balance of protection versus pain," she said.
"Finally, leadership should promote the formation and robust operation of professional communities of trust," she said, noting that "such communities are essential to allowing security professionals to stay current, relevant and thus respected within the field."
Her influence on the formation and building of those communities is indisputable. "Becky was a friend," said SC Vice President of Editorial Illena Armstrong. "I sought out her counsel not only to help support SC's continuous advancement, but also to guide me on my own personal and professional growth. And I'm not the only one. She was a guiding light to a legion of professionals in this space. Beyond being a cybersecurity groundbreaker with virtually peerless professional acumen, knowledge and experience, she was just a beautiful, kind and giving person. This world is lessened without her in it."