Interview: GCA CEO Phil Reitinger: Five Years of Making a Difference

Today we are pleased to be joined on the forum by our President and CEO Phil Reitinger. Having passed our fifth anniversary on September 16th we are looking back over the last five years and taking a look at what lies ahead for GCA.
Welcome Phil!

Glad to be here! Thank you.

Can you believe it’s been 5 years since GCA was founded?! An untested new cyber related non profit …what drove you to sign up? What makes GCA different?

I have the same answer to both questions. I was tired of going to meetings where the same solutions were discussed over and over. “Wouldn’t it be great if everybody did X?” GCA was an organization formed to do something to reduce cyber risks - to take the best ideas in the community, bring that community to implement a concrete solution, and then measuring whether it worked. I’m passionate about those things.

Yes, your passion is evident. So, is GCA achieving its objectives? How has GCA adapted its approach to address the ever changing threat landscape?

In my opinion yes, but others have to make the “success” judgment. With partners we’ve implemented a number of solutions, including Quad9, our DMARC deployment program, and cybersecurity toolkits. The analyses we have done and published show a very positive return on investment. In terms of how we have changed, I’d say we have matured. As a start-up, you pick an idea and tackle it, which we did with Quad9 and DMARC. Over time we have built a more detailed system for picking projects and moving them forward. But our basic approach, our DNA, is the same. Unite the community, implement a solution, measure the effect.

Just recently we saw GCA stand up a focused multilingual campaign within days in response to the increased threat faced by so many businesses having to work from home as a result of COVID-19. The Work From Home campaign, alongside 22 coalition partners, provided invaluable support, advice and tools for that newly remote workforce. That’s impressive. As we move into the next 5 years what is it about GCA that will be so important to maintain?

The most important focus for GCA will be taking action. With the upsurge in remote work due to COVID-19, we looked at the guidance being given and were concerned that it was too complicated. We wanted to stick to very simple messaging focusing on the three things that people could actually do quickly and easily to be more secure in a remote work environment - patch, use multi-factor authentication, and use a protective DNS service like Quad9. We talked with partners and they agreed. And as a group, we not only gave that advice we provided the tools to implement it. That is exactly what we want to maintain as we move into the next five years - a focus on action.

What are GCA’s current priorities in terms of addressing the current cyber threat landscape?

We look for the most effective ways to drive cybersecurity at scale - that is, for everyone. For us that means building security in the architecture and infrastructure of the Internet, providing easy to implement security to key groups like small businesses, and building the security of key applications that everyone uses, like email. To do that we have a number of programs which are described in more detail on our website: IoT Security, Routing Security, Cybersecurity For All, Trustworthy Connections, Trustworthy Email. Trustworthy Information, and Metrics.

I’d also say that a major focus is continuing to grow GCA around the world - to help extend cybersecurity to those with the least access and great risk. That means growing our presence, partners and focus in places other than North America and Europe.

GCA recognizes the invaluable contribution our partners make to our work - and the global impact of our work. We can only continue making a difference with their continuing support and the support of others. What are your current priorities in the short - medium term?

We want to involve partners even more in our work. From generating and reviewing ideas for areas of work, through doing the work, to implementing a particular solution. For example, we have a channel on this community forum for partners to help with “ideation,” that is, coming up with ideas for projects.

And finally if you could fast forward five years from now, what would you like GCA to be?

GCA will have more presence and greater effect around the world, especially in developing countries. It will have more “muscle,” greater people, partners and resources to develop and deploy effective solutions. It will be more widely known, including because we need reputation to generate the resources to take effective action. It will be a diverse and inclusive organization helping everyone to be more secure, regardless of social station, ability to pay, or any other factor.

Lots of great efforts underway and certainly much work to be done for GCA in the coming years.
Thanks very much Phil for taking your time today to join us here on the forum!

Glad to. Folks can also ask me questions later on Twitter at @CarpeDiemCyber if they like. Thanks for the opportunity! phil