An Interview with our CTO

Balanced. This is one word that our Chief Technology Officer, Simon Robinson, would use to describe the way he works. Always multitasking, yet able to focus intensely on one thing.

Well versed in the language and processes of traditional threat hunting, Simon explains it as a story. Trying to gather together an idea of what a potential or past threat could look like in its entirety from only a few pieces of a huge puzzle, and having to take it to step by step, each time stopping and retracing many different tracks. Curiosity, he says, is key to the process, because it is what allows you to think beyond normal parameters and look for other ways in, just as a potential threat would – picking out threads from a web and following them to see where they lead you. There are different kinds of hunting, different ways of focusing on a problem, depending on a variety of factors and the urgency of the analysis – if the threat is currently underway, then time is of the essence, and therefore some things are more important to identify that others – how is this threat impacting us, and how can we stop it? The preventative measures and the detailed tracing comes later.

Simon has previously worked in Systems Architecture, taking a customer’s needs and translating that into a technical design for a developer, which he mentions gives him a good understanding of interpreting user needs and building that into solutions so that they are fit for purpose, something that is important to his role now as CTO.

Speaking of his present role, Simon moved to talk about why it was that he was draw to work at Assimil8 in the first place with his wife and co-founder, Stephanie. He describes her as a driven, focused, and passionate individual, which makes her exciting to work with – every day there is something new to overcome, some new challenge, and their skill sets complement each other to achieve a sense of roundedness. Simon sits in the role of CTO, with Stephanie as CEO, because he is a subject matter expert in threat hunting, and he understands our IDRIS Software and its potential, excelling at technological problem solving, not running a business.

When asked who has most shaped who he is in the workplace and who he strives to be, Simon identifies an old manager of his, citing that this manager inspired him because he was always interested in learning more and trying to be better, whether that was around technical expertise and process or people management. Seeing someone who genuinely valued self-improvement and the people on his team made Simon think that it was possible to believe in a work culture that is truly collaborative, something which he now hopes to instill within the company culture of Assimil8 as it grows.

Through experience, Simon has come to know what is truly important within Cyber Security. One thing that he emphasised was awareness. A big problem today is that a lot of people are daunted by the idea of implementing cybersecurity measures because they do not understand them, rendering a lot of cybersecurity tools unusable and irrelevant. You only have to implement protective measures that are proportional to a potential threat level, he says, so you shouldn’t get bogged down in the technicalities, you should focus on understanding how the risks relate to your organisation and the impact that they could have.

Presently, there are multiple large companies that charge exorbitantly high for products that do not meet user needs, which is in part because they themselves add to the problem by being overly complex, making them inaccessible to companies with smaller budgets and smaller means. Simon believes that solutions should be available that meet companies’ needs and are still accessible for people and organisations from a variety of different backgrounds. Simon’s strength lies in breaking things down and building them back up again, making him a very valuable asset to Assimil8.