Michael Canavan, senior director, systems engineering, Kaspersky Lab North America
Michael Canavan, senior director, systems engineering, Kaspersky Lab North America

Why did you get into IT?

Getting into the IT business was a natural pull. I have found that there are two unique factors within IT. First, the technical nature of IT means that there is always more to learn – at no point could a person be considered at a maximum level of knowledge. Additionally, technology evolves at such a rapid pace that you never really stop learning. The other factor I find interesting is the interaction between highly technical IT teams and other business entities. These two groups tend to have varied levels of technical expertise, which really helps to build a collaborative, dynamic environment. 

How do you describe your job to average people?

Presales systems engineering is about helping enterprise IT customers design the best approach for implementing a given solution into their environment.  We have to be experts in our field to make best practice recommendations while helping customers evaluate software.

What was one of your biggest challenges?

When customers are evaluating an anti-malware solution, they typically depend on analyst and third-party reports to show the security effectiveness of the product. That means that evaluation testing is usually focused on how the solution will function within operational processes and workflows. These processes and workflows are our biggest challenge with solution design. Every customer has a unique environment with varied processes resulting in a high need for flexible design and implementation, while maintaining minimal change in operational processes. 

What keeps you up at night?

The escalation of cyber weapons from state-sponsored entities is chilling. Unlike traditional weapons of war, cyber weapons are persistent and can be analyzed and repurposed. Today's cyber criminals are receiving an injection of well-funded coding to add to their toolbox.

What makes you most proud?

My team. They're extremely committed and hard-working, and we learn from each other every single day. 

For what would you use a magic IT security wand?

Instant Security Policy. I can't count the number of times I have asked potential customers if they have a written Security Policy in place, but it's amazing the number of customers who don't have security defined.  Would you take a trip without a map or GPS? You need to have a plan in order to reach a goal.