Network Security

Ward Spangenberg, director of information security at

With SC Congress Chicago just around the corner, we get to know a little about one of the speakers, Ward Spangenberg of, and how he compares himself to Moose Tracks ice cream.

What was your first job?
The more memorable job growing up was working for my mother's company. She ran a backpacking foods company, all original recipes, really good stuff compared to all the other vendors, and I am not saying that because I am scared of my momma. The funniest part about that job was whenever I did not feel like working, I would annoy my mother to the point that she got angry at me and fired me. I was fired easily 20 times one summer and re-hired within a day. It's still a running joke in the family.

If corporate security was an ice cream flavor, why would it be?
Oh that's an easy one. Moose Tracks ice cream. You've got your vanilla; those days where nothing is going on, logs are clear, life is good. Then you have the peanut butter cups; it's that little blip, an alert somewhere, a text massage that something is acting strange. Then you have the fudge; you know for when something hits the fan. Now of course I will never be able to eat that flavor again without thinking about this answer.

What does your mother think you do for a living?
Depends on the day. She's seen my picture with Snoop (or as mom called him snoopy dog), and she knows I hang out at a convention where people all wear dark hats (still doesn't understand the whole white/black hat after 30 years of her son being in the industry). Pretty sure she would describe my job as some type of electronic cop. He is always tracking down bad guys and escorting celebrities.

If you were to describe yourself as a breed of dog, what would it be and why?
I think I am a little bit border Collie and Bernese mountain dog. They're called Berners. I have all the intensity of the border - stare you down till you play ball with me. But then I'm as friendly as a Bernese - I will happily help you out with anything, be it a lick, a paw shake or letting you scratch my back. If I really like you a lot, what's a little slobber amongst friends. But remember you mess with my sheep I still have teeth.

What would your last meal be?
This is tough. I have become a "foodie" since moving to San Francisco but in the end it would relaly come down to a choice between two things: either a chicken fajita burrito from El Toreador in Redmond, WA (I begged for the recipe the last time I moved away from Seattle), or a cheeseburger from Bix in San Francisco (amazing, yummy and made more perfect by the burger press).

If the battle between IT security pros and cyber threats were to be embodied in comic book characters, what classic super hero/nemesis match-up do you think would be most fitting?
I think I am going to go with X-Men versus Magneto. The battle is never just black and white. It's always a mixture of both. Both sides very often want the same outcome, unfortunately using very different methods to achieve the end result.

What is the lamest password you've ever heard?
"password123" (hasn't everybody at least once?).

What is your favorite movie?
Wow - well in the vein of all that is security, Sneakers but I must mention my love for one of the worst depictions of security, Hackers. I had better not forget Firewall - still mad at Harrison Ford for that - really an MP3 player and a scanner?

If you had to have an occupation other than the one you©öre doing, what would you do?
James Bond - I could be agent 6C333374 (agent l33t), international man of mystery - talk with a British accent, have Q's toys to play with, a room in my house with a floor to ceiling monitor that I could move things with my hands. I would be so cool.

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