Select Page

Build IT Together is all about two things: IT and community, and we’re aiming to bring these together under our monthly blog series, 12 for 12.

By interviewing 12 IT leaders over 12 questions, we’ll get to know each other a little better, and get unique perspectives on the industry. This month, we meet with Chris Czub of Duo Security, based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

What is your official title?

Security researcher at Duo Security

What does “IT” mean to you?

Getting stuff done with technology—reducing friction, barriers to entry, promoting productivity and freedom for people. Also allowing a lot of collaborative capabilities, especially with globalization and this interconnected marketplace where we’re working with people in different timezones overseas—not to mention locally. IT means getting stuff done, sharing, and removing barriers to entry.

What daily task in your job do you find most fulfilling?

Learning new things and trying to make things better. In security especially, we see a lot of things that are broken or scary, particularly with how critical IT is becoming, so it’s rewarding being able to teach people to use technology safely and confidently.

You can choose one common IT problem that you can instantly solve with the snap of your fingers, every time. What problem would that be?

The ability to make the blackhats—the actors—go legitimate in their field. It’d put me out of a job, but security would be a lot easier, haha.

If you could instill one habit in every one of your customers and colleagues, what would that be?

The desire to work together, for everyone’s enrichment. A lot of us have the same goals, especially in security, but you run into a lot of adversarial attitudes. You get a lot of friction and conflict between teammates, when really, we’re just trying to make things safer for everyone. Recognizing everyone’s expertise and domain knowledge is critical to having those good shared outcomes.

What’s one step that you never miss when taking on a large project?

Understanding the problem fully- or at least as much as possible- as well as any existing work in that space. In scientific fields like IT, we’re always building on the shoulders of giants. We can trace the lineage of something as seemingly modern and disconnected as the Javascript framework du jour all the way back to Brendan Eich working with javascript in Netscape, all the way back to Alan Turing, all the way back to Andre Marie Ampere working on the original electronics. We’re rarely in a situation where there’s absolutely no precedent, so there’s always something you can look back on.

What has been your most memorable support issue in IT?

Before working at Duo, I learned the economic impact that software bugs can have on a company. I worked for a company that ran online contests with various giveaways, and there were several instances where there’d be some obscure software bug or misconfiguration that would wind up costing the company money because they gave away prizes they weren’t supposed to.

Can you tell us more about your background, or a passion you have outside of IT/technology?

I like cooking, and lately I’ve been into gardening—growing my own vegetables and stuff. It’s satisfying to be able to DIY something that’s as basic as your biological sustainance. And, delicious food can make you lots of friends and makes for good dates.

What was your favorite 1990s (or fading) piece of technology?

The clipperchip. This was a early 90s device intended to add encryption to your phone calls. The NSA recommended that people use it, but it included a backdoor so that the government would be able to get in—so that the bad people wouldn’t be able to hide what they were doing.

Now, this backdoor had a flaw in it, which was demonstrated, and that killed the device because anyone was able to get into these supposedly private communications. I think it’s poignant with all these recent debates over Google, Twitter, and Facebook leaving backdoors for the government, when we have an example of how it can go wrong.

What is the Medieval equivalent of an IT professional?

A blacksmith, maybe. They’re building and fixing the tools that everyone is using, and they were the cutting edge of moving things forward at the time. Building the economy and giving people the tools they need to accomplish more and more.

If you could have lunch with any technologist/innovator that’s ever lived who would it be?

It’d be interesting to have lunch with Elon Musk. He seems like kind of a sci-fi nerd who’s bringing all his wildest fantasies to life, because he just has this massive capital, and tons of engineering expertise. After seeing what he’s been able to do in the world, I’d love to have lunch with him and hear the ideas that he CAN’T actually accomplish right now, because those must be crazy.

Is step 1 always, “turn it off, then on”?

Yeah, definitely!

If you could make one piece of SciFi or futuristic piece of technology a reality, what would it be?

Probably the Star Trek “replicator,” that can reassemble matter. We produce all this garbage and trash—the population keeps growing, we’ve been wanting better and better lifestyles that produce more garbage—it’d be great to turn that into food and other things.

Chris, thank you for taking the time to meet with us and sharing your thoughts! Keep up with Chris on Twitter, and be sure to check out more on Duo Security! For more tech stories and news, visit Newmind Group and Build It Together online.