Tarah Wheeler

The Future Is Coming Like A Mack Truck

The challenges of cybersecurity are growing geometrically even as we split into ever more specialized subfields. The Internet of Things and mobile application security aren’t just splitting apart; they’re recombining in new and interesting ways. There are many things that look nothing like a computer and yet are computers–and frakking toasters are the least of our worries. Increasing democratization of physical manufacture through crowdfunding and outsourcing means that smaller and smaller teams of people can build things that hook to the Internet without any security controls baked in.

When those small teams look for a website and server space, when they look for bookkeeping and marketing, they find outsourcing companies and consultants able to help them at every turn. In security, however, there’s so much conflicting advice that there’s no real establishment of best practices. Something as simple as setting a default administrative password that doesn’t force a change on first use can break the Internet, and it’s time for us as a community and an industry to collaborate and begin to agree on a common set of common sense rules and advice for the people building tomorrow’s devices with security you could drive a truck through.


Tarah Wheeler (BA, MS, CSM, CSD) is the Principal Security Advocate for Website Security at Symantec. She is the lead author of the 2016 book “Women In Tech”. She has led projects at Microsoft Game Studios (Halo and Lips), architected systems at Silent Circle, and holds two agile development certifications through the Scrum Alliance. She founded Red Queen Technologies, LLC (web development), Infosec Unlocked (initiative to add diversity in infosec conference speakers), the Women In Tech Council (to increase women’s participation in tech conference speaking), and Hack The People Foundation (nonprofit mentorship initiative focused on underprivileged people in technology). She acquired her startup funds by cleaning out poker rooms in the Northwest and Las Vegas. Reach her at @tarah.