Careers: Interviews
Bruce Cowper, Top International Security Authority, Chief Security Advisor Microsoft Part 1

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., DF/NPA, MVP, CNP has the first of his exclusive interview series with Bruce Cowper.

Bruce CowperAs the Chief Security Advisor for Microsoft Canada, Bruce is responsible for the overall security strategy, working closely with the Public Sector, large enterprises, Industry Associations and the Community across Canada. He comes from a security background in secure system design, forensics and security risk management and as the Chief Security Advisor leverages his real life hands-on experience to relate to the challenges faced today. Bruce is a prolific speaker and can frequently be found in the media and at conferences across Canada and beyond.

Bruce is a founding member of the Toronto Area Security Klatch (TASK) and an active member of numerous organizations across Canada. Before moving to Toronto and joining Microsoft, Bruce held positions on the board of directors of several IT companies, championing the development of technical excellence and the customer experience.

Bruce holds a degree in Computer Systems Engineering as well as industry standard qualifications.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:50: As Chief Security Advisor, what does your work entail? Can you detail some of the research areas, some of the challenges/problems and some solutions?
"....Most of my time is spent working as the interface between the Canadian government and the larger enterprises and Microsoft from a security perspective. I also cover a number of specific areas....for example...the online safety spokesperson in Canada....also I work with industry associations and community groups....and the all out security strategy in Canada for Microsoft. This includes things like PR, and events that we sponsor...."

:03:15: On the online security area itself are there any specific groups that you really feel enthusiastic about?
"....I've been privileged enough to work with a number of groups across Canada...Recently Calgary was voted Online Safety City of the Year....The team consisting of private enforcement...City of Calgary....and others came together as one team and said that we need to help people understand the challenges and give them practical solutions from across the board....A couple of other groups I've worked with....The Child Exploitation Centre in Toronto....KISA (Kids Internet Safety Alliance)...."

:06:14: Can you profile the paths you have taken to get to your present position and the key career lessons you have learned along the way?
"....One of the big defining moments was realizing that you can, as an individual, change the world. That may not necessarily be on a global scale but it may be the world of the people who are immediately around you. I think that's the opportunity....when people look at their careers and ask themselves....Where is it that I want to go? How is that going to impact or help other people?....How can I make the most of what I've got available, (whether it's my time or my resources), or literally be able to make sure I've got an opportunity to further my career?..."

:10:57: What was the catalyst for your involvement with security?
"....It's been a really interesting shift that I've seen over the last ten years or so. Especially that security is coming out of the closet, from where people had deemed security as being this 'big black box that I don't have anything to do with', to now starting to be a lot more integrated into what we are doing on an everyday basis of what we need to do within our organization. That is the big shift that I had always hoped would happen and probably the biggest reason that I got into the security world...."

:13:17: What is the impetus behind your work with Task (Toronto Area Security Klatch) and Sector?
"....We formed the user group around three years ago and have now grown to one of the largest independent security groups in North America with over a thousand members. The focus was giving people a forum where they could ask the questions when they've got a problem today.....And... connecting the existing security professionals with the security company that are out there from a career perspective....We spent a lot of time making sure that Task is accessible to, not just the hard-core security professionals, but also to the people who are thinking about moving into the security world...."

:20:53: Can you share security tips from your work?
"....The biggest tip about security is really about thinking about security in everything you are doing. It doesn't just have to be about IT security, it could be physical security....We see a large convergence of security and privacy right now...."

:29:36: You see in the news about the world economic crisis and how it could affect the way we live. I see this contrast between security and transparency, what are your views on all of this?
"....When we start to look where businesses have traditionally invested money it hasn't been in terms of things like security....But with security now taking a much higher profile with services that are supplied to the customers, businesses can no longer afford to dismiss security as a cost saving opportunity....What we are talking to a lot of businesses about is....making sure that security is built into everything they do from the ground up, fully integrated because it's a lot easier and more cost effective to include it as part of their operating costs rather than just bolting on...."


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