Ron Gula, cyber investor and policy expert, discusses privacy and entrepreneurship

Each week we talk to guests who have vast experience in the cybersecurity field. This week, Ron Gula – cyber investor, policy expert, President, and Co-founder of Tenable and Gula Tech Adventures. In addition to owning Tenable Network Security and working at many top companies (including one involved in the early internet), Gula and his wife invest in other startups to promote entrepreneurs, which gives him a unique perspective.

Here are a few highlights of our conversation:

Technology & Team: Two important considerations when funding startups

After exiting and selling companies for more than 20 years, Gula and his wife are now in a position to help other founders follow the same path. To increase cyber and entrepreneurship, one of their companies, Gula Tech Adventures, funds startups and nonprofits. And in their free time, they regularly blog about their experiences and perspectives to help other entrepreneurs as much as possible.

But it’s often challenging to determine which companies to fund. Their criteria are two-fold: they have to both understand the technology and like the team. Gula says that there have been a lot of people they have connected with on a personal level, but didn’t feel the technology was interesting or unique. And on the flip side, they have run across great technology but felt the founders weren’t someone they could help or wanted to work with closely.

If you’re doing business, you should have protection goals

“If you are going to make money, you’re going to lose money, you’re going to hire people, you’re going to fire people – but ultimately, you should be doing business to have some sort of protecting goal in mind. If you do your job right, you might keep a presidential candidate from getting their campaign hat. You might keep some child from being sexually exploited. There are so many things that cyber touches, it’s such an amazing time to be involved with this industry.”

– Ron Gula – cyber investor, policy expert, President, and Co-founder of Tenable and Gula Tech Adventures

Prediction for the future

During this episode, Gula shares his perspective that the landscape is currently interesting with so many technology companies out there, some struggling to stay relevant, such as traditional hardware companies. It’s often a smarter move to subscribe to infrastructure through the cloud, which is leaving some large multibillion-dollar companies struggling to stay relevant. Because there are multiple priorities and many ways to solve today’s problems, he predicts that the cyber industry will continue to grow and be dominated by lots of big companies as well as hundreds of small companies. He also expects to see the government pass more laws about security – covering topics from how to recover from a cyberattack to educating the general public on privacy. Specifically, he predicts legislation requiring inspection of data regardless of its location – in the cloud, in motion, or at rest.

You should be worried about your jeans store

“Everybody likes sausage, but nobody wants to see how the sausage is made and what’s going in there. And when you look at marketing, and when you look at the amount of data that these stores collect on, you realize that it’s not the National Security Agency and the FBI and the local police you have to be worried about – it’s your jeans store or your shopping mall.”

– Ron Gula – cyber investor, policy expert, President, and Co-founder of Tenable and Gula Tech Adventures

Minimize to Control Privacy

When asked about how consumers can better control privacy, Gula said the trick is to start by taking an inventory of where your data is located, and then minimize. He says to think about all the different ways you give your information out – when you gave your kid a credit card to put into their Apple account, did you sign up for a credit alert program? Do you have multiple personal email accounts? Instead of using one device and account for everything, he says people should minimize and separate. When possible, he recommends a computer for social media, one for gaming, and one for business – it shouldn’t all be done in one place.

Don’t get caught with wide nets

“If James Bond comes after you, if the best in Russian cyber offense comes after you, you’re not going to stop them. So most of what you need to do is just not get caught with wide nets. Small things like that can make a big difference.”

– Ron Gula – cyber investor, policy expert, President, and Co-founder of Tenable and Gula Tech Adventures

Diversity and Cybersecurity

While Gula mentions UFOs and several other lighter points, he doesn’t shy away from a tough topic that has been central to our country the past few weeks. He shares that while security experts come from all backgrounds, many in the industry are white men – and as a society, we need to do a better job of getting everyone involved. Gula Tech Adventures supports Year Up, which is an organization that targets kids in depressed regions who should have attended college but didn’t have the money. The program provides a rapid IT certification and cybersecurity certification to help diversify the profession.

Ready to listen?

While we’ve shared a lot of interesting details, the best stuff from the conversation is still a secret — until you listen to the episode, of course. Check out this week’s episode here.

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