A Q&A with Mike Albert, Van Dalen security engineering advisor

One-to-one interview with security engineering expert, Mike Albert

Read some insights from our own Mike Albert, security engineering advisor with wizard-level expertise in general security practices, system automation, and monitoring and management.

He told us all about his passion for security and burger flipping robots gone wrong!

Not quite like the sax I usually play, but similar.

What do you love most about your job?

Besides being able to control data breaches and wreak havoc by exploiting the security missteps of my mortal friends, I really enjoy going ahead and helping people. I really enjoy being able to take dependencies that everything is built upon and taken for granted and making sure that you can actually depend upon it.

I mean, think about it, who would’ve thought that smart lights could be hacked? Like what does that even mean? Today people can hack into other facilities through smart meters, one person even hacked through a fish tank to find PII data. It’s things we don’t think about and take advantage of.

I’ve seen so many businesses, where you depend on making regular transactions, purchasing regular goods and services, and it’s a total sucker punch when you try to use your own money and you can’t because the technology has been locked or restricted in some way without you knowing. Someone has basically violated your trust.

What’s the coolest security solution you’ve engineered?

To be honest, some of the neatest solutions I’ve gotten to work on were providing something extremely basic. Providing the general health, status, and knowledge on what was on the network, basically asset inventory. The reason I love this is because, for example, I had a customer relied a lot on their app, but things kept on crashing and they couldn’t figure out why. The reason was because they were basically over utilizing their systems, they weren’t focused on the underlying infrastructure. Instead, they just wanted to make their idea come through. This allowed for capacity planning and being able to lock down their environment so they could start controlling inventory in their environment as a whole. With BYOD, it causes a whole slew of problems. Being able to track what’s on your network is a huge advantage.

Creating STEM projects for the kiddos—scribblebots!

Do you think robots are going to take over world?

I love this discussion. It won’t happen as long as humans are still in control of the robots. We’d have to have some type of robot that’s designed to do something and then does something completely unintended because of our own oversight.

So like, if there’s some burger flipping robot that doesn’t take account for some type of entity that would interfere in its program cycle, what if they’re not able to hit the off switch in time and they’re doing maintenance? Giant burger robots throwing lettuce, pickles, and ketchup and people are just freaking out. You don’t want a person between the burger flipping robot and the grill. I mean, one false step in the code, you can definitely cause the program to go down a really bad road, some logic task that’s completely unintended. LOGIC BOMBS, BOOM.

But if it does happen, I definitely welcome my overlords.

What is your most unique technical skill?

One of my soft skills, which is being able to translate services from a technical level and work with and identify system owners and stakeholders so we can map them to a business need. In other words, it’s great to do something technical, but I like being the one who asks why someone wants to do something. You don’t need a better mousetrap if it’s just for the sake of having a better one. I love technology and solving problems, but I also like making sure that the appropriate requirements are taken into account.

What advice would you give to the future security engineers of the world?

Remember that when we look at problems and we try to work with a number of different solutions offerings or point offerings to provide holistic solutions, the focus should be embedded security and not bolt-on security. Always bake security in. It’s part of the process, which is super exciting from a DevSecOps perspective, because it’s a mechanism to allow things to be baked in more easily. You’re constantly developing all your testing around that and that allows you to identify and fix problems quickly. Keep this in mind as you enter the field.

See how Mike helps our security clients create effective messaging in a competitive market. Watch Mike’s intro video and take a look at his profile!