When Chris Glanden started his BarCode podcast three years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height and socializing publicly was on hold.
Wilmington-based Glanden, who has worked in cybersecurity for over a decade, wanted to talk about the trade with experts from all over the world. He did it by recreating one of the most basic — and, at the time, forbidden — adult social situations: the bar. Listeners would virtually pull up to the bar, grab a drink (each episode to this day has a signature cocktail) and listen to the conversation.
Between the social concept and a string of interesting cybersecurity-related guests — including the former blackhat hacker Gummo, retired CIA officer Ric Prado (a.k.a. the Shadow Warrior) and, recently, Vivek Ramachandran, founder of SquareX and creator of the comic book series “Hackers: Superheroes of the Digital Age” — BarCode has drawn a healthy following.
As COVID protocols eased up, Glanden was able to bring the podcast to live venues in the region and beyond, including a live show interviewing three Philadelphia chief information security officers on a yacht and two back-to-back nights in Las Vegas during the Black Hat 2023 conference.
Glanden said that when he started BarCode, he aspired to found his own cybersecurity consulting firm but didn’t think he would stand out enough in the competitive industry.
Now, in 2023, he has a brand. In late October, he left his full-time role as a consultant for a reseller and launched Barcode Security, a full-service cybersecurity consulting firm, on Nov. 1.
“The podcast is really going to be a main driver for the business,” Glanden told Technical.ly. “I’ve built up a ton of credibility. I’ve talked to some really brilliant people. And there’s going to be some synergy between what I’ve done in the past three years and the consultancy.”
The podcast has been an education as well, giving him insights he may not have had otherwise.
“I think one of the main things I learned is that there’s not a universal fit,” Glanden said. “I’ve spoken to many CISOs, I’ve spoken to many leaders and they all have a different perspective on how they would approach things, and they see that through the viewpoint of their specific industry. … Other than that, I mean, I think that I’ve learned that the human side is extremely important in terms of developing a plan for your organization and building culture.”
While the podcast has shown that the human side is a major focus of the brand, so is AI. The rapidly evolving technology can be used for cybercrime, as well as to fight it.
“One of the areas of security I’m really passionate about is AI, and with the consulting firm, I do have an advisory arm solely focused on enterprise AI,” said Glanden. “So, like, employing AI governance or writing a policy, because a lot of companies now are employing enterprise-level ChatGPT and there’s privacy concerns around that. It’s easy to overlook, and, especially for medium-sized businesses, they don’t want employees going out and sharing sensitive data to some of these systems.”
That passion for AI extends beyond the podcast and the new firm, as BarCode’s documentary film about AI weaponization, “Inhuman,” nears completion.
“We filmed in Vegas, we filmed in Virginia, we filmed in LA,” he said. “We have one more we have to shoot in Philly, and that’ll be the last shoot and that should be happening this month, and then post-production starts. I’m still targeting a January or February release date. That’s optimistic, but AI is moving so fast.”
When the film does have its release, expect to see a screening or two in Wilmington, as well as at next year’s Black Hat conference and, if all goes well, some film festivals.
It’s all part of the brand.
“It’s always been in the back of my mind that I wanted to sort of blaze my own path in terms of how I advise, and a lot of that was through the creative and entertainment vector,” Glanden said. “I’m a people person. I love networking. I love understanding people. I love understanding their business, but I also enjoy that human side. And to build a program efficiently, you must understand the people involved. I think that often gets overlooked.”
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