ComSpark Podcast - Delrae McNeill, Manager Technical Instruction at Per Scholas

comSpark Thought Leader‚Äč

Dlrae McNeill, Manager, Technical Instruction

Per Scholas


Mick Fusco

Lead Tribune Media Group

To listen to the podcast click here!

Hello and welcome to the ComSpark Podcast where you will get to meet today's technology thought leaders to learn more visit

Mick Fusco: Hello, we're here today with Delrae McNeill, who's the manager of technology instruction for Macola is a company that is providing technical training to the under-served community to help them establish a career in technology. My name is Mick Fusco from Lead Tribune Media Group and I will be your guest moderator today. So, let's get started. Thank you for joining us. It's a pleasure having you. Let's go ahead and talk about security.

Delrae McNeill: Sure.

MF: Everyone's interested in security. It seems to be in the news no matter what news channel you're turning on. So, the meltdown inspector vulnerabilities are in the news. Should be worried as consumers?

DM: Well, I'm not sure we should be worried. We should be concerned, and we should be a little more diligent. Those vulnerabilities were determined to be design flaws affecting millions, if not billions of mobile devices, so everyday users as well as enterprise level users could be affected by it. But the good news is that none of these vulnerabilities have been directly exploited as of yet, but everyone knows about it and so now we're trying to mitigate and put together our defenses and patches to kind of prepare for keeping our information safe.

MF: Excellent. You know, if we walk around, when I walk around and different businesses, everyone has a smartphone, everyone's doing things on their smartphone. If you go into a coffee shop, everyone is doing things. IT seems it so integrated into our lives and into a businesses. How does that affect business as far as the vulnerability perspective?

DM: I think for the, for the average everyday user, they have less to be concerned with the specter of real vulnerability. It's the larger enterprise companies that are; those are going to be the juicy targets, if you will. The issue that it's going to affect those businesses is how quickly can they implement changes to try to mitigate the possibility of some of these breaches. The larger the company, the longer it's possibly going to take to do that because they don't move as quickly and not as agile as a lot of the smaller companies are.

MF: Should I be worried about someone taking the photos of my Christmas Eve party on my smartphone or just be wise and taking care of my own personal smart device?

DM: I would not be worried. I would just be a little more diligent and more aware of all of the data. Everything could be seen, and all that information is flying around through the air. It's just a matter of time before someone gets access to it. For us, it's a matter of what information is that going to be, so I tried to personally limit that important information on mobile devices so that maybe all they are going to get are those Christmas pictures.

MF: If I could transition a little bit, it seems that infrastructure and hardware are advancing so quickly and everything's changing, and today's model is outdated tomorrow. It's the speed of light, so when we talk about infrastructure; is SD WAN for everyone?

DM: My opinion, I don't think it's for everyone. I think it's going to present some very good opportunities for smaller organizations, smaller companies or startup organizations where cost is a concern, right? Because infrastructure is, that's all the hardware and the software that goes into it. That's a cost. SD WAN technology offset some of that. Someone else maintains or has that infrastructure in place that you simply contract as a service.

MF: Does that tie into some of the security vulnerabilities that we just talked about?

DM: It does in the sense that SD WAN utilizes cloud services, cloud storage, and of course the big concern is who owns the cloud and where is my data and who can see it. So that is a big concern for a lot of people, but companies like Amazon and some of the larger companies that have been offering cloud services for several years, they're doing a pretty good job at applying security in and keeping data safe.

MF: So, what would you recommend to a company that has no security or governance plan? Where do I start? If I have a company that has nothing, where do I start?

DM: That's a really good question. And fortunately, there are a lot of publications in organizations that already exist that have those templates. Those how to’s, if you will. Some of them are can be found on state, local, federal government websites. Some of the tech organizations, right? The NIST organization, all of those have information and these templates and guidelines for setting up security, setting up policies so that individuals don't have to recreate the wheel to add more security to their systems.

MF: It seems like it's a daunting task, especially if the organization doesn't know anything about security, cyber security and it's intimidating for the lay person. Now, how do I figure this out?

It's nice and it's encouraging to know that there are user groups, or organizations to walk you through it.

DM: It is, and you know, technology is sometimes very complicated and it's a big scary thing for a lot of people but one of the things I do with the organization I'm with is we try to take some of that mystery out of the big scary technology and help people to understand what it is and how to use it safely. The biggest thing I tell people is really sometimes you have to jump right in. It's harder to break things than what we think. We're so concerned about doing the wrong thing. Sometimes you have to play with it a little bit, but fortunately there are resources that can help companies that provide this planning as a service, but also a lot of the local colleges and universities, students who are completing their programs and have projects; that are willing to partner with some of these companies to help develop a plan. It helps them to, you know, complete work for their program, but it also helps the community. Alright, for some of these companies that don't have a plan and aren't sure where to start, they'll re.

MF: Thank you for joining us today. It's a pleasure talking to you.

DM: Thank you.