My 30 years journey in computer security

It’s really hard to believe that I have been active in the domain of computer security for such a long time, yet this is what my personal timeline tells me!

I recently made this reflection due to an unexpected offer to present at the local (ISC)² chapter here in Suisse Romande.

Mauro Verderosa, Chapter President, got in touch with me via LinkedIn and asked me if I would be interested in delivering a presentation online, on a security topic of my choosing.

Given my passion for both public speaking and security, I immediately accepted the challenge and started to reflect on what topic to address, to make the presentation both interesting and pleasurable to listen to.

The plan became that of presenting a timeline of computer security and my involvement in different phases of the evolution of technology and events which had an impact on security, and how the industry responded, up to the present day.

In my reflections, I went all the way back in time to when I was first exposed to the Internet and to computer security, and the calendar went back to 1988! But if I consider my first computer and telephone modem, and not-always-so-legal accesses to ITAPAC, the public X.25 data network in Italy, we go back to even earlier than that, as I remember soldering the components for my 300 baud telephone modem electronics kit in 1987.

The “Nuova Elettronica“ italian electronics magazine with the 1987 article on the telephone modem kit which I bought for 165.000 Italian Liras, and built all by myself using my soldering iron!

Back then, I was using a Macintosh Plus as computer, after starting in 1982 with an Apple ][euro+ (the first ones assembled in the new Apple factory in Cork, Ireland) and then moved to an Apple //e, before starting with the original Mac in 1985.

Other than accessing a number of FidoNet BBS (bulletin board systems) and also using CompuServe for more serious e-mail use, I had never seen the power of a computer network until I started to visit the computer labs at Politecnico di Milano in 1987, even before I had finished high school! I was using my brother’s “libretto universitario“ to enter the labs, where Pasquale, the security guard, did not really do a good job of “intrusion prevention“! 😀

The rest of the story, which can become indeed quite long as I have a very good memory of those happy days, can be heard in my 21 minutes long presentation, found on YouTube:

I have also published the slides on SlideShare:

I really enjoyed preparing and delivering this presentation, and if you have been working in this domain as long as I have, I am convinced you will have more than a few shared memories, especially during my time at Cisco between 1998 and 2009.