In preparation for the upcoming TEDxMaui 2012 event, we caught up with presenter Jeremiah Grossman, a Maui High graduate who is now one of the world’s leading experts on Internet Security. Get to know Jeremiah a little better, and learn about the special role that Maui continues to play in his life.
1. What drives you to do the work you do?
The Internet is a vehicle for individual freedom, economic prosperity and democracy. Beyond possessing a personal passion for Internet security, trying to help protect the vast expanse that is Internet and the two billion people it connects is a great cause to dedicate myself to. Plus, I, like everyone else have become very dependent on the Internet and the value it brings to my life and I’d like to make sure that can continue.
2. Share one personal experience or relevant anecdote that informs your TEDx talk?
Several years ago I recognized that I was spending the bulk of not only my professional life, but my personal life as well, in front of a computer. One day I wanted to get out and do something else, anything else, for a few hours as long as it wasn’t it front of a computer screen or on a cell phone, which is nothing more than a tiny computer these days. I would consider watching TV or a movie, listening or learning music, reading a book, buying something nice for my wife, etc. The trouble was, most of those things, are typically done on a computer these days. I had to try really hard to think of things that have nothing to do with a computer – something that gets increasingly more difficult each year with technological advancement.
It occurred to me then that the vast majority of my life, and the lives of those around me, are completely tied to pervasive computer use – and an Internet connection. This realization showed me that my work on Internet security is important to just about everyone on the Web, indirectly at least.
3. How are you or your topic connected to Maui or Hawaii?
I grew up on Maui and graduated from Maui High School. I continue to do my research and work with my company WhiteHat Security from Maui as well, where I regularly get outside and do things, like going to the beach, that do not require computer use.
4. What are some of your favorite statistics or data points?
I like big numbers, numbers that remind me of real problems that affect all of us. Protecting the Internet means protecting 555 million websites, 80-90% of which are currently fairly hackable today. I also appreciate that I may be educating and protecting some of the millions more going online every year and the 17 million software developers globally in how to write secure code and why.
The small number that I really appreciate is 1%. That roughly 1% of a websites’ visitors will have malicious intents in some form or another. So, if a website has 100 million users, you must be able to identify and protect yourself against the 1 million who are out to wreak havoc.
5. What advice would you give to your younger self–or what advice would your younger self?
Imagine what the two of us could accomplish together!?
6. What do the TED Talks mean to you?
Having an opportunity to be on stage at a TEDx Talk shows me that my contributions, my ideas about Internet security, are different enough to the world that they may bring about a change no one considered before. For me, TED Talks also represent a unique opportunity to share a message, a chance to educate others about some very pressing concerns that go beyond just (in my case) security, with an audience that it directly impacts and who might not have otherwise gotten a chance to hear.
7. Do you have a favorite talk that speaks to you?
Without a doubt, “Bill Stone: Exploring deep caves (and someday the moon)”.
The audacity of his ambitions, the complete disregard for the risks that would petrify the average person, and both combined with the bold personal pursuit of discovery is something to be truly admired. Bill Stone reminds us that great things are not accomplished by reasonable people and TED gave him the opportunity to showcase that an idea from left field can have an impact.
Have a look at the talk, below:
To pick up your tickets to TEDxMaui 2012, head over here.