In your opinion, which company or person has had the biggest impact on the information security industry within the last 10 years, and why?

Trying to determine a single person or company in the past decade who had the biggest impact on information security is sure to hurt your brain in a similar manner to, “why does mankind exist?” That said, I’ll take the approach that a person certainly stands out for their contributions as not just “one of us” but also a person who helped change the rules for how we approach information security research.

Peiter Zatko, perhaps better known as “Mudge”, is a stellar representation of all that can go right in this community we all exist as a part of. Not only was he a member of the L0pht and the Cult of the Dead Cow (CDC), but also a former employee of DARPA and current employee of Google.

I think Mudge stands out to me most for two main points:

1)   He is to many of us an icon both of what being a hacker should be like and of a good way to go about things.

2)   He showed us that we could “grow up” and still be part of the community, do important work, and wear a suit yet maintain who we are.

The work he did to create the Cyber Fast Track (CFT) during his time with DARPA is a testament to his long-time commitment to those he considers friends and colleagues. That he was able to hackers money from the government to do research in a manner not riddled with red tape is by itself a bit of a miracle.

Having been able to see Mudge speak last year at DEFCON, I was deeply convinced of his focus and love for information security and his dedication to keeping the infosec spirit alive – long hair or not.

That said I’m sure his humility would outweigh any agreement with this short post, but that’s just another sign he deserves a little extra recognition. The people we consider “rock stars” in this industry rarely are, (except for their propensity to enjoy fame) but I think Mudge may pull it off in all of the right ways.

Mark Stanislav | Duo Security | @markstanislav

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