Career Notes 7.19.20
Ep 7 | 7.19.20

Graham Cluley: Have to be able to communicate to everybody. [Media]


Graham Cluley: I'm Graham Cluley and I'm a computer security writer, podcaster and public speaker.

Graham Cluley: Back in those days, you learned how to program by buying a magazine at the local newsagent and spending hours and hours over the weekend laboriously typing in the basic commands. And this is how I learned how to program computers. And I loved it. And I started writing computer games for my friends. I actually began to write games which were, in a way, a mixture of both programming and literature. I got into what's called interactive fiction or more commonly, maybe text adventure games. And after a while, I began to sell those text adventure games and those adventure games ended up on the front disks of magazines. And I would say at the end of them, look, if you really like the game, why not send me five quid or 10 quid and I'll help you get further in the game or I'll send you a map. And then one day, a package arrived on my doorstep from a guy called Alan Solomon who'd played my games. And my life changed forever. I was immensely lucky.

Graham Cluley: And inside the parcel, he had a check for 20 pounds, which is more than I ever asked for, and a copy of Dr. Solomon's Antivirus Toolkit and a letter saying, if you want a job, let me know. And so I rang him up and I went for an interview and he gave me a job and I was his first ever Windows programmer.

Graham Cluley: So for a few years, I was writing Dr. Solomon's antivirus toolkit for Windows. But what they noticed was that I think actually I was at a particular show where we will launching the product. And I would see the salespeople demonstrating my software, my creation. I think they're not showing the good bits. And so I said to them, you know, do you mind if I have a go. And so they let me have a go on the stage. And soon there was a bit of a crowd around, as I explained and talked through my magnificent bitmaps, which I designed and things. So I think I sort of bullied my way in time out of the programming department. So I made this great big jump. Over time, I became more and more the public face of Dr. Solomon's talking to the press, describing what was going on in the world of cybercrime, writing articles and generally just doing tap dances effectively. And then one sad day the company got bought. And frankly, I think I lasted about six weeks.

Graham Cluley: After a period of gardening leave, I decided to go and join Sophos for about half the salary, but three times the fun. I wasn't involved in any of the programming at Sophos. But I was involved in the social media activity. And probably the primary thing of all was something which myself and Carole Theriault, who now co-hosts a podcast with me, Smashing Security, we set up a blog called Naked Security. At the time, it was something a bit different to be honest. When we launched it, there weren't many technology companies who were writing every single day about what was going on, what was going on in terms of threats and trying to explain them in simple language. We were trying to explain these things not in a way which, you know, an intelligent child would understand, because I've always felt there's been a problem whereby nerds are speaking to other nerds. And I don't think that's the solution to the cybersecurity problem. I think we have to be able to communicate to everybody. Effectively, I my career now involves writing articles, making podcasts and giving public presentations that that's that's what I do. And people, thank goodness, are interested in what I have to say or how I say it and so they're asking me to keep doing that.

Graham Cluley: I wish I had gone independent sooner. It has been an interesting new challenge, and I I wish I'd had the confidence to do that soone and to carve my own career. There's all kinds of challenges like that because I'm basically a one-man company now.

Graham Cluley: Things like networking are so much more important. I used to be I'm naturally quite introverted. You know, if I don't know you, I'm quite quiet and shy and I'll hang out in the kitchen or something. I don't like to go to parties and things like that. You know, I like to be around. I'm good with the people I know, but I'm not so good with people I don't know. And so I find myself at events now and I push myself and say, okay, I don't know anybody here, but maybe I should just go and chat to someone. There is still that 12 year old computer programmer inside me who feels a little bit scared about doing that sometimes but, you know, I think we all have to be a little bit bolder sometimes.