Secret CSO: Todd Kelly, Cradlepoint
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Secret CSO: Todd Kelly, Cradlepoint

Name: Todd Kelly

Organisation: Cradlepoint

Job title: Chief Security Officer

Date started current role: August 2018

Location: Deer Park, IL

Todd Kelly is a seasoned network architect and cyber security leader with more than 20 years' experience with enterprise and mobile network operator IP networks. He is known for educating and supporting global wireless operators and enterprises as they build secure, next-generation networks. Before becoming Cradlepoint's Chief Security Officer, he served as Vice President of Solution Engineering and held global technology leadership positions with Starent Networks (purchased by Cisco), 3Com, USRobotics, and several startup vendors pioneering networking communications.


What was your first job? My first paying job was a paper route for the neighbourhood newspaper. It was a weekly publication and I had to go door-to-door to collect monthly subscription dues.

How did you get involved in cybersecurity? I was working for a dial-up modem and remote access company called USRobotics in support and escalations for secure remote access and network security. We were purchased by 3Com and then spent a lot of time working with Wireless Carriers helping design their 2G/3G/4G packet core networks and securing them.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I did a Master of Science in Information Systems at Northwestern University after completing my Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering Technology at Southern Illinois University. I also hold a CISSP certification.

Explain your career path.  Did you take any detours?  If so, discuss. My career began as a field engineer, connecting tradeshow registration and continuing education tracking systems for trade shows. It was a great experience learning all about network availability, telecommunications and databases. This brought me to USRobotics, where working in various technical support and escalation roles introduced me to early 2.5G wireless WAN and 802.11 LAN technology. Every day we would manage problems for customers trying to implement these technologies incorrectly - after they had bought the solutions. But I really wanted to help customers earlier in the process, before they implemented the technology. This brought me to a carrier in Solutions Engineering, designing secure network solutions for customers and managing engineering teams. Network security has always fascinated me and eventually this presented the opportunity to lead our security strategy and execution for Cradlepoint.  

Was there anyone who has inspired or mentored you in your career? My predecessor, Kent Woodruff, was an incredible mentor and inspiration for me (RIP 2017). Additionally, Brian Espy, Pierre Kahhale, Ashraf Dahod, Ryan Adamson are amazing inspirations and teachers that feel blessed to have met during my career.

What do you feel is the most important aspect of your job? Constant communication and alignment internally to help others see the value of security as a function enabling the business' strategic objectives. Listening to employees, customers and partners with timely follow-up is equally important.

What metrics or KPIs do you use to measure security effectiveness? A couple that are currently informative show our maturity around acting on Phishing attempts. Additionally, looking at our vulnerability response times and service availability metrics is important.

Is the security skills shortage affecting your organisation? What roles or skills are you finding the most difficult to fill? We do try to leverage third parties where possible, but recruiting solid seasoned cybersecurity analysts is tough.

Cybersecurity is constantly changing - how do you keep learning? Tradeshows and local security events (BSides for example) are always helpful. ISC also has a great learning community. I would also call out Peerlyst, Trello, Bruce Schneier, OODA, Medium, Dark Reading and LinkedIn.

What conferences are on your must-attend list? B-Sides, THOTCON, Black Hat, RSA, Evanta Chicago CISO, Gartner Symposium.

What is the best current trend in cybersecurity? Zero Trust Architectures is certainly one of the key trends being discussed at the moment.

The worst trend..? That has to be Phishing - we should eliminate email!

What's the best career advice you ever received? Listen more than talk. Refrain from using "I" often in all communications, and follow-up promptly on what you say your going to do with everyone in life.

What advice would you give to aspiring security leaders? Find a mentor to help you, but put in the time to make it productive early in your career. Make strong efforts to continually follow-up regularly with your mentor.

What has been your greatest career achievement? Helping customers in any time of need. It's also been great to have the opportunity to contribute in small ways that help enable others grow into their true passions and callings in life.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? I believe the mistakes and ignorance you experience along the way are all necessary parts of the journey, and feel blessed to have had them to grow. If there is one thing that could of helped earlier in my career, it's learning how to be a great listener and be more open to my biases.

What is your favourite quote?"We are not here for a long time we are here for a good time." George Straight.

What are you reading now? Becoming a Global Chief Security Executive Officer: A How to Guide for Next Generation Security Leaders, by Roland Coutier.

In my spare time, I like to… Spend time with my wife, kids, family, friends and neighbours.

Most people don't know that I… Love the game of Rugby Union. And also forging anything in a coal fire…

Ask me to do anything but… Do expense reports in a timely manner!

 

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