Threat intelligence teams should consider recruiting journalists

Posted by   Martijn Grooten on   Jan 29, 2019

These aren't easy times for journalists. Last week's laying off of dozens of journalists at BuzzFeed, including its full national security desk, contributed to more than 1,000 media jobs being lost last week.

The reasons for these lay-offs are complicated and beyond the topic of this blog. What piqued my interest, though, was a Twitter post by Dragos CEO and founder Robert M. Lee, who suggested journalists may be excellent additions to threat intelligence teams.

I agree. I understand that working for a security company isn't the Pulitzer-prize-winning career journalists may have dreamed of, but many companies engaged in threat intelligence produce good research that often involves thorough investigations. Good threat intelligence is a long way removed from corporate PR.

Companies and teams engaged in threat intelligence would certainly benefit from recruiting journalists.

Journalists can write fast and are skilled at distilling the essential information from a large piece of research, making it clear for the reader what really matters. Many of the articles I read when compiling Virus Bulletin's weekly threat intelligence newsletter would benefit from being (co-)written by someone with these skills.

And there's another reason why someone with experience in journalism would be a great addition to any threat intelligence team.

As highlighted by Juan Andrés Guerrero-Saade in his now classic VB2015 paper, a transition has taken place from security research into intelligence brokerage. Blog posts and papers, especially those involving (suspected) nation-state actors, form part of the geopolitical debate. Decisions as to what is or isn't published or shared go far beyond what is technically interesting.

Journalists, especially those who have written about national security or geopolitics, are used to making these decisions. They have also seen how such posts are read 'from the other side'. Your threat intelligence team would be richer and more effective having them on board.

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