Andrew Storms - VP of Security Services at New Context

I’ve found that new ideas require internal thought processes. Taking a shower — though not so much these days with the drought in California — or exercising usually clears the cobwebs. Once an idea feels moderately formed, I like to share it with my trusted friends, my wife, and my colleagues. Saying things out loud forces you to explain yourself and hear your own ideas. This is a good way to see any weaknesses in your ideas.

Andrew Storms is the vice president of security services at New Context. Previously, he was the senior director of DevOps at CloudPassage and the director of security operations at nCircle (which was acquired by Tripwire in 2013).

At nCircle, Andrew was responsible for the definition and enforcement of security programs, delivering EAL3 certification, handling SOC 2 audits, and managing the company’s PCI Approved Scanning Vendors program. He’s been leading security and compliance teams for the past two decades. His multidisciplinary background also includes product management, quality assurance, and software engineering.

Andrew’s commentary on IT security issues has appeared in CNBC, Forbes, and The New York Times. He’s a certified information systems security professional, a member of InfraGard, and a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy.

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

Location affects my daily work pattern greatly. I feel rather spoiled to live about 50 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County and be able to work for a company that embraces a remote workforce.

On average, I commute to San Francisco two days a week. That commute consumes three to four hours of each day. Days spent in San Francisco are usually focused on in-person meetings with staff and local clients. I work from home the other days, and I get to start those days with an early morning jog or a walk with my wife. I’ve found that making time for even a quick walk sets the stage for a much more productive, focused workday.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I’ve found that new ideas require internal thought processes. Taking a shower — though not so much these days with the drought in California — or exercising usually clears the cobwebs. Once an idea feels moderately formed, I like to share it with my trusted friends, my wife, and my colleagues. Saying things out loud forces you to explain yourself and hear your own ideas. This is a good way to see any weaknesses in your ideas.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Market disruption — and not just technology, IT, or information security disruption — is amazing. Uber, for example, completely changed the transportation industry with an incredibly simple idea.

Just the other day, our CEO was telling me that a new self-driving transport semitruck was approved to hit the road. This could easily be a revolution similar to how robotics turned the Detroit auto industry upside down. I’m not suggesting that all market disruption is good, but I love to watch the status quo change right in front of my eyes.

What’s one habit of yours that makes you more productive?

I create a distraction-free environment by turning off all mobile phone push notifications and shutting down TweetDeck, Slack, etc. It’s amazing how many things are fighting for your attention these days.

What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?

Any job that teaches you something is a good job. The lessons might have been painful at the time, but they were important. Take that experience, and use it to enact change. We produce software applications using the Agile method, which reinforces self-learning processes. The same idea should be applied to your life.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I’m a constant learner, so I would do just about everything differently in some way.

What’s the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Find a prominent person in an industry outside of your own, and study what he or she does and says. (However, I don’t recommend anyone study career politicians for advice.) Read something from a modern philosopher, pick up a business journal, or attend an art exhibition opening.

Figure out why and how these people are famous and sought after, and then ask yourself how you can apply their tactics to your own life or profession. We need those outside influences to break us from our drudgery.

What’s one strategy that has helped you grow in your field? Please explain how.

Finding a goal and figuring out a way to reach the goal is key. That path will almost always make you uncomfortable, and it probably should! Just like everyone else, I don’t like being pushed out of my comfort zone, but it has always benefited me in the long term.

What’s one failure you had in your field, and how did you overcome it?

When the iPhone was first released, I was a huge naysayer because the product failed to meet the most basic security requirements. On one hand, my stance garnered a ton of attention and helped propel my personal brand. But I realized this same staunch attitude led to a catastrophe in accurately tackling the problem in my own organization.

I learned that being strong-minded isn’t necessarily the best tactic. It’s better — especially in IT and information security — to take an approach that enables your business.

What’s one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Call me selfish, but I tend to only share these good ideas with a few people.

What’s the best $100 you recently spent and why?

Although it’s not a recent purchase, I’d have to say the Apple TV. I bought one about three years ago, and the device actually ended up saving us money over time because it was the device I needed to finally cut the cord from the cable company.

And going back to my previous comment about market disruption — we’re in the middle of a media market disruption, and it’s entertaining to see the players fight it out. One of the more exciting things to happen recently was HBO offering its streaming service without requiring viewers to pay for cable.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I can’t say that I really love any software or services. A few years ago, I transitioned both my personal and work life entirely to Google Docs. It was a bit scary, but it ended up being a huge win. Plus, Google supports multifactor authentication.

I still enjoy Pandora, despite all the competitors in the space. I probably use Pandora most days — either at home on a device or at work from a browser. And how about Google? It’s such a basic staple that simply didn’t exist in the early 1990s when I was hooking up companies to the Internet. People should be thanking their lucky stars for fast, accurate search.

What’s the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Cuckoo’s Egg” by Cliff Stoll is a classic hacker story that covers the basics, and the tactics are still used today. Also, it’s a fun roller coaster of a story.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Tim “TK” Keanini, chief technology officer at Lancope, is a long-time friend and a great strategic thinker with a ton of energy and dedication. I’ve learned a lot from him over the past 20 years. I also enjoy the speakers and the ongoing work organized by The Long Now Foundation.

Connect:

http://newcontext.com/
Andrew’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewstorms
Andrew’s Twitter: @st0rmz