Have you ever had a cloud security question that you wish you could get answered directly by an expert? 

Well, many of us in the cybersecurity community have that same desire, which opened the door to start a new forum for connection and ongoing learning. 

We’re proud to introduce our monthly “Orca LIVE: Ask the Experts” sessions with Principal Technical Evangelists Neil Carpenter and Ashley Ward, held on the second Thursday of each month at 9am PT. In every session of Orca LIVE: Ask the Experts, Ashley and Neil discuss the latest topics in cloud security, followed by informal Q&A. The purpose? Encourage continuous education and dialogue regarding cloud security, while fostering shared passions for cybersecurity and solving cybersecurity challenges.

To keep with the theme of asking our experts anything in an informal manner, we sat down to get more information about the meaning behind this series and why anyone interested in cloud security is encouraged to register.

Q&A with Orca LIVE: Ask the Experts Hosts Neil and Ashley

What inspired you to start this series?

Neil: Our field moves so fast that none of us knows everything. These conversations are a way to listen to Ashley and our guests, to share what we’ve learned, and to share it with our audience. I particularly love the emphasis on live Q&A as I often find that the questions I’m asked help me grow, maybe, as much as the answers help somebody else.

Ashley: It was a natural progression from the conversations that Neil and I would have. He has such deep experience in the sharp end of cybersecurity, from his years spent directly helping people in Microsoft, whereas I have experience slogging through operationally trying to bring business objectives and security together. We’d get on a call with someone who asked a question and that would then lead to a discussion. Afterwards we’d think “We wish we’d written that down or recorded it,” so this is an opportunity to get more questions and more discussions!

What is your background in technology and cybersecurity?

Neil: When I was young…and this is, ahhh, 1982 or so…I really wanted a guitar and my parents bought me a computer, a ZX Spectrum. It’s hard to be disappointed as it’s led me to where I am now. Early in my career, I was a network engineer and, at the time, there was a natural movement from networking into security. I spent a long time helping to build Microsoft’s customer-facing security incident response practices which involved figuring out how we could improve our tools and methodologies for investigating hosts (and, later, for assets in Azure and Office 365) and analyzing the advances that attackers were making. Since then, my technical passions have been focused on how to help organizations get ahead of that cycle to prevent, detect, and limit the impact of potential compromises. 

Ashley: I have fallen into cybersecurity thanks to my desire for fame, fortune, and domineering control. I started my career as a Unix administrator back when the big chunky Solaris/AIX box was king. I got to spend my days saying “no” to people. Great days. When I moved into financial services I discovered that Security could say “no” even more and so I found my calling! Seriously though, I have a passion for technology (fun fact that I learnt while writing this, Neil and I both had a ZX Spectrum as the first computer in our homes) and seeing how technology can enable businesses. I love the idea of finding the “no,” understanding why it exists, and then actively problem-solving to turn it into a “yes.”

Who should attend Orca LIVE: Ask the Experts sessions?

Neil: I hope I’m not being too obvious when I say “anybody with an interest in cloud security.” As organizations continue to embrace public cloud computing, though, I think that covers everybody from cloud security teams to traditional cybersecurity teams who are going to have to take on cloud security responsibilities; additionally, I’d love for people outside of the cybersec teams to join us – developers, operations, auditors, etc. I think that, ultimately, security is everybody’s job and I’d love to hear from the teams that are impacted by security even when it’s not their primary responsibility.

Ashley: Anyone moving into or operating in the public cloud. Especially those people who when they hear “security is everyone’s responsibility” shudder slightly because they know it’s true but it feels like just more work.

What can someone expect to gain by attending?

Neil: Ashley and I tend to push each other in conversation, finding that we’ve each got a half of the answer – we’re both curious and we love solving problems. And we love talking about solving problems. I expect that attendees will experience thought-provoking discussions and grow from the chance to put their questions to us. And I haven’t even mentioned the guests.  We’ve already got some of the smartest people in the industry joining us!

Ashley: Someone coming along will learn how specific cloud security problems are solved but, more importantly, the thinking that we’d take in approaching it. They can get their specific questions answered as well as hear from others on the challenges they face at different stages in their cloud journey or organizational change. These sessions will expand everyone’s understanding and capabilities in cloud security.

Can you share a few topics you’re most excited about?

Neil: There’s so much to talk about that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few topics. I’m excited to talk about emerging threats and problems in the public cloud security space. I’m looking forward to making impractical suggestions about what security should be doing only to have Ash explain why they can’t actually operationalize THAT. I like to talk a lot about moving security teams into less conventional areas like DevOps. Also, it seems likely that retrocomputing will be a topic at some point.

Ashley: I look forward to Neil’s takes on applying problem solving to new threats.  Specifically, understanding how or why the threat exists to then be able to properly tackle what the threat is. I want to hear how people are making use of technology to automate processes and, dear to my heart, elevate people. What issues are people facing? Our research tells us some part of that but speaking directly to people and trying to help them with their challenges is exciting.

How can attendees follow along with your insights on an ongoing basis?

Neil: The most important thing is to register for Cloud Security Live and join us each month but, if you need to hear from us more often, I would invite you to follow us and Orca on LinkedIn to join the conversation. That’ll keep you plugged into in-person and online events that we’re participating in as well.

Ashley: Get involved! Follow or connect with me and Neil on LinkedIn. Follow Orca who will post on X and LinkedIn saying when the next session is coming along. Watch some of our webinars on the Orca site, or view our resources as well.

Register for Orca LIVE: Ask the Experts Monthly Series

And there you have it from the experts themselves. Orca LIVE: Ask the Experts is going to be interactive, insightful, and most of all, fun! Be sure to sign up and share with your network by sharing the link below.