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Meet David Maynor & Chloé Messdaghi - Cybrary New Hire Q&A

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By: Cybrary Staff

May 23, 2022

The Cybrary team is excited to announce two experienced cybersecurity leaders have joined the team to advance our mission to equip professionals at all stages of their careers with the skills to succeed against ever-evolving cyber threats. David Maynor joins us as the head of our new Cybrary Threat Intelligence Group (CTIG), and Chloé Messdaghi is our new Chief Impact Officer. We recently spoke with both of them about a variety of topics, including how they got started in cybersecurity, why they’re excited to join Cybrary, and what cybersecurity trends are top of mind for them. Take a moment to learn a little more about David and Chloé and join us in welcoming them to the Cybrary family.

Q: How and why did your cybersecurity career get started?

David: I grew up in a small, impoverished town in North Carolina and when I was nine years old my dad took me to see Robocop in theaters. On that day, I instantly knew that I wanted to work with computers when I grew up. I initially thought this meant my calling was to move to Atlanta and work for Pixar, but when that didn’t work out I started reading a lot of hacker magazines in my free time and taught myself how to code. After teaching myself almost everything I could, I began working for Georgia Tech University. Eventually, word spread that I was interested and skilled in cybersecurity issues and I got moved to their cybersecurity department. Since then, I’ve worked for a wide variety of security vendors and ran my own company for eight years. Over the past five years, I’ve even spent time living in Kyiv, Ukraine, working with authorities to stop the onslaught of cyber attacks. There’s nothing in the world that cannot be applied to cybersecurity. Throughout my career, I’ve dealt with securing everything from satellites to planes to Formula 1 cars. If you can dream it, I can make it relevant to cyber. Years ago, there was a thought that security runs on mainframes and doesn’t have a bearing on the real world. However, your iPhone, laptop, watch, thermostat, and even refrigerator are now all in that same environment and face the same security threats as any other device. Businesses and people are now impacted by it on a daily basis.

Chloé: After I graduated from university, I was initially a management consultant for tech startups and nonprofits. I got into cybersecurity by complete chance when I first worked for Kenna Security. Since the cybersecurity industry is similar to the rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland and I’m a constant learner, I find myself continuing down the same path today. I started to see cybersecurity as a humanitarian issue and I wanted to start the conversation about how organizations can approach, and take care of, cybersecurity from a humanitarian lens. I had the opportunity of starting to have a better understanding of the hacker community when working at Bugcrowd and collaborating on Disclose.io. Since then, I’ve been an advocate for hacker rights and equity for marginalized genders in the community, creating nonprofits like We Open Tech and many others. I then joined Point3 Security after BlackHat in 2019 to focus on training security teams with an emphasis on improving the wellbeing of security team members, such as burnout and up-skilling. As someone who has a background in international relations and helping developing nations with social issues like climate change, education, poverty, and world health, I’m driven by purpose.

Q: How did you first find out about Cybrary and what drew you to become involved in the mission to bridge the cyber skills gap?

David: Throughout my career, from fast food worker to world-class threat researcher, I’ve learned one key thing: more often than not, you can’t ‘product your way out of a people problem.’ That’s especially true when it comes to cybersecurity, and by investing in people, it becomes much easier to solve the cyber skills gap. I’m from Atlanta, which has a large security community, and my wife also works in the industry, so Cybrary has become well known for cybersecurity training over the past few years. When I was connected to Cybrary’s CEO, Kevin Hanes, through my network, we immediately saw eye-to-eye and I knew I could make an impact at Cybrary, where we’re building the next generation of cyber defenders. I hope to leave security in a better place than I originally found it.

Chloé: Honestly, I kept seeing Cybrary’s logo on shirts at industry events back in 2018! Also, throughout my conversations with industry professionals, many kept referencing Cybrary as their training platform of choice and I was eventually referred here by a couple of contacts. Security has always dealt with a revolving door of people and talent, but Cybrary is trying to help the industry go through a monumental shift and learn how to truly invest in their people. We want to create something that actually changes versus just continuing to talk about the issue. Gatekeeping (when people are told they didn’t get a role but not why), for example, creates an unrealistically high barrier that keeps many who are extremely capable of doing incredible work out of the industry, especially people of color and marginalized genders. We want people who understand how attackers think in order to better defend, and Cybrary provides accessible content that is needed for people to learn and immediately be ready to enter the cybersecurity space.

Q: What’s your new role at Cybrary, what does it entail, and what goals do you hope to accomplish?

David: The formation of the Cybrary Threat Intelligence Group is to ensure all the training we provide is relevant, timely, and communicates real-world skills, rather than just checking a box. As the leader of CTIG, my day to day goal is to reach an equilibrium where we are aware of new threats and TTPs and can tell everyone why they should pay attention and care, as well as what action to take (even if it’s to wait for more information as it develops). I hope to bring this to light through various means, whether it's speaking at conferences like RSA and BlackHat, writing blogs, or appearing on podcasts to discuss the latest industry trends. Another one of my goals is to increase the timeliness and relevance of Cybrary’s training offerings so our learners remain well-informed. By tracking threat actors and vulnerabilities, CTIG will help shape the content and courses we curate for our learners.

Chloé: As Cybrary’s first Chief Impact Officer, I’ll be focused on meaningful engagement and advocacy among Cybrary’s users and customers to drive growth. My overall goal is to help grow Cybrary in a way that is impactful and make sure the community feels loved and that they are a part of our mission. Also, the best companies in cybersecurity are the ones that listen to their customers and actually implement their feedback in the product roadmap. Therefore, I’ll be partnering with all teams within Cybrary to create a feedback loop that influences content, product features, messaging and positioning, and opportunities to drive purpose. As part of my new role, I also hope to be an advocate for both Cybrary and individuals that want, and deserve, to be in the industry.

Q: What current security topics and trends are you most passionate about?

David: I’m interested in anything that has a real-world impact. For example, I was in Ukraine following the power grid attacks in both 2014 and 2016. People say that a lot of cybersecurity risks are theoretical, but they are more real than you think. Also, there’s a lot of concern right now around supply chain vulnerabilities as well as ransomware attacks, which are both constantly on my mind, especially since my wife worked for the city of Atlanta when they suffered a large attack in 2018.

Chloé: I first began discussing diversity, equity, and inclusion issues and personal stories about how people are impacted in cybersecurity in 2018. Topics ranged from how to get started in a career in cybersecurity, vulnerability disclosure policies, bug bounty, hacker rights, climate change impacting security, burnout on security teams, and gamification in security. I’m pretty excited to be giving three talks at RSAC this year about these topics, too. I have one talk focused on post-pandemic mental health on security teams, one on representation at the top, and another on inclusive mentorship in tech.

Q: What are your hobbies outside of work?

David: I’m lucky because I get paid for my hobby. On weekends, I like to participate in CTFs and I also like to play practical jokes on my friends. I’ve even “broken in” to my best friend’s Tesla and moved parking spots on him to see if he’ll notice. Outside of cybersecurity, I’m a big fan of Formula 1 racing and the popular Netflix show, “Drive to Survive”, reading books (even trashy romance novels), magic, video games, and any movies involving Keanu Reeves. I’ve even been lucky enough to consult with video games, including Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs, as well as TV shows and movies that have a cyber aspect to them to ensure accuracy.

Chloé: I’m a huge bookworm, especially when it comes to nonfiction. Books like “Tribe of Hackers,” “97 Things Every Information Security Professional Should Know,” and “Brotopia” are a few of my current tech favorites. I’m obsessed with “The Little Prince,” and even collect versions of it in different languages. Also, traveling and cooking are my form of meditation, especially French, Italian, and Persian dishes. Along those lines, I also love to try different champagnes and tea, especially boba. One day I hope to become a sommelier as a side hobby. I also have two Shiba Inus, Sherlock and Luna, who act more like cats than dogs.

Increasing our in-house cybersecurity expertise with industry leaders like David and Chloé and forming CTIG are key milestones in our evolution as an organization. Thank you both for telling us a bit more about yourselves and your passion for cybersecurity. We are excited for the impact that your experience will undoubtedly bring to the Cybrary community.

If you are interested in meeting with the Cybrary executive team at the upcoming RSA Conference in San Francisco, CA, please reach out to us at press@cybrary.it.

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