There are great stories in the security industry that aren’t being told. Fascinating people who fly below the radar and aren’t being heard. We know because we encounter them in hallways, hotel lobbies and just about everywhere imaginable across the globe. Everytime we think “I wish I had recorded that conversation so that everyone could hear it…” Our goal with Security Voices is to provide a place for clear-headed dialogue with great people that’s unencumbered by the hyperbole and shouting that’s far too common in security circles. We don’t have anything against sponsors or sales pitches, but they run counter to our goal of cutting through the noise,  so we don’t have either. We’re aiming for 100% clear signal. 

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Co-founders, Material Security

This episode of Security Voices is different. Let’s say you sat down at the end of a long day and had a casual drink with a few industry friends before dinner. The conversation quickly turns to serious topics which are all discussed with thoughtful insight, biting humor and some well-placed profanity. Welcome to the latest episode of Security Voices where Jack & Dave wander off the beaten path with Abhishek Agrawal and Ryan Noon, co-founders of email protection company Material Security. This one isn’t for the easily offended or as the soundtrack to a drive with the kiddos.


“How not to suck as a vendor” is our introductory question, prompting an earnest conversation that starts with “don’t be an active cancer”, covers The Market for Silver Bullets and ultimately explains why the pandemic has made already questionable cyber security marketing even worse.


After exploring some of our top influences, from The Autobiography of Malcom X  and The Origin of Consciousness to Joe Frank’s avant garde radio show, The Other Side, we talk email security.   In a year that changed so many things, Abhishek and Ryan explain how truly little changed for phishing attacks. While the trend is not compelling, the reason why is. They walk us through what truly makes phishing attacks successful: distracted people reacting to well-timed messages.  This hard truth confounds the market for anti-phishing training as ultimately our susceptibility has much more to do with our emotional state at the time than it does our factual knowledge or even our learned behavior.


If you’ve wondered what the difference between phishing and business email compromise (BEC) is, this episode is for you. Abhishek provides a clear explanation of both topics before we forecast an ominous new threat on the horizon: Really Scary Phishing™. 


Our wrap-up eschews the usual speed round and instead asks “What can cybersecurity can learn from other industries?”  Jack lays out how the service industry has much to teach us about taking care of our own while Dave explains what he learned about empathy and innovation from the advertising industry.  We depart on a hopeful note, as Ryan relays a story reminding how small acts of kindness can have a large impact on others.


We’ll be taking a short break before the next episode as Jack and Dave attend to some important “life stuff”. See you in the Spring!

About Ryan & Abhishek

Ryan is the CEO of Material Security which he co-founded in 2017. Previously, he led various engineering teams at Dropbox after it acquired his last company, Parastructure. Prior to Parastructure, he led engineering at a data analysis company spun out of Stanford by DARPA. He holds both an MS in Computer Networks and Security and a BS in Computer Science from Stanford.

Abhishek is the CTO of Material Security, which he co-founded in 2017. Before Material, he was an early product leader at Dropbox, where he shipped collaboration products as well as core infrastructure and analytics that helped Dropbox scale. Previously, he was an engineer at a Microsoft R&D lab focused on prototyping improvements to the Office suite. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BSE in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University.

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