The Family CTO

In the fall of 1987, by advising my father on the purchase of an IBM-compatible machine from PCs Limited, I had unwittingly accepted a lifelong shadow career. From that moment on, I was the Family CTO. Some 25 years later, I now manage a complex infrastructure in five locations. The devices supported went from a couple of PCs to networks of connected devices tied to the cloud via broadband internet connections provided by cable operators and cell phone providers.

As Family CTO I support seven users who range in age from 4 to 87.  In this thankless job I have to worry about a lot of things, but security is now Job One.

The task is a daunting one. It is easy to take a reactive stance and battle problems as they arise. However, several events have prompted me to be more proactive and prioritize security. Here is a quick, blood-curdling glance:

• Breaches of some organizations that most would assume were secure – RSA and Google
• Breaches of personal systems spanning across multiple platforms – Apple and Amazon
• Breaches of news/gaming properties revealing user passwords and credit card numbers – Gawker and Sony Playstation Network
Anonymous turning against WikiLeaks

When I was young the worst a prankster could do was have a pizza delivered to my door.  These days a little indifference or laziness can result in that same kid draining the bank account of someone you love and humiliating them in front of all their so called friends and colleagues.

And it’s not just about passwords, although I encourage everyone to create stonger ones.  It’s about network configuration and physical security and offsite backups . Most of all it is about keeping my family protected, connected and happy.

At work I’m surrounded by highly trained professionals who are paid handsomely to keep systems running and data secure.  At home it’s just me, an internet connection, and whatever time I have left over when I come home exhausted from the day job.

Maybe the answer is developing the talent from within. Why be a babysitter when you van be the VP of Technical Operations at age 10?