Gerd Meissner

Gerd Meissner writes, produces, edits, and manages content at Authentic8. He started his career as a journalist who covered information technology, data security, and the tech business for leading broadcast, print and online media, both in the US and in Europe. As a staff editor with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Gerd co-founded Spiegel Online. His byline appeared in numerous national and international publications, including The New York Times. Gerd authored and co-authored several books, including “SAP - Inside the Secret Software Power”, an in-depth biography of the enterprise software giant that was published to critical acclaim.
Find me on:

Recent Posts

The One IT Security Issue That Too Many Media Are Totally Missing

Posted by Gerd Meissner

Jun 8, 2017

Tumbnail Illustration: InfoSec Luminary Lineup: The One IT Security Issue That Too Many Media Are Totally Missing - Authentic8 BlogSECURITY, NEWS

Did you notice how some journalists ask one particular question at the end of an interview? It’s usually a good sign: "Is there anything I didn't ask you but should have?"

This question indicates curiosity to go past the obvious talking points. It shows the interviewer’s openness to considering new angles. We decided to rephrase and broaden that question and pose it to our InfoSec Luminaries:

"What's the one IT security issue that you wish journalists would cover more or better, and why?"

No media bashing or gripe-airing intended here. Reporting on IT security, computer crime, data protection and privacy - and getting it right - is tough enough. It looks like more fun from the outside (if you’re not  doing it yourself ) than it actually is. We get it.

But even those in the industry who enjoy stellar media coverage can point to an issue or two that deserves more attention than it is actually getting.

The premise of this Lineup was to highlight aspects that rarely make it on page 1 of the Daily Data Breach. Perhaps we can even seed one or two story ideas. In any case, all our contributors welcome your questions if you’re a journalist covering the industry and looking for expert input or a fresh perspective on a related topic.

Illustration: InfoSec Luminary Lineup Discussion: The One IT Security Issue That Journalists Should Cover Better Or More

At Authentic8, for example, we would like to see more light shed on the web’s inherent security weakness, for better general awareness of what's needed to better protect ourselves. Below, our InfoSec Luminaries highlight the IT security issues that they think could otherwise get lost in the shuffle.

The submissions cover a broad range this time. They address gender aspects and the human element (Daniel Garrie/ Masha Simonova, Eric Vanderburg). They offer facts and insights for less dark (Fred Scholl) and more diligent (Benjamin Wright, Mike Baukes, Pete Kofod) reporting.

Another one highlights an upcoming regulatory requirement that will have a significant global impact (Steve Durbin). And we close this round with a practical reminder that WiFi connections always warrant a second look - for all of us, but for journalists in particular (Joseph Raczynski).

On that last note, check out these posts on how to secure a WiFi connection when traveling and why Stealing Data Over WiFi Is Easier Than You Think.

PS: Do you have something to add or would you like to be included in future InfoSec Luminary Lineup discussions? Connect with us through one of the links at the top of this page or use the comment form below.

Topics: News, Security

5 Must-Read Reports for IT Security Leaders in Financial Services

Posted by Gerd Meissner

May 2, 2017

Thumbnail Infographic - Cyber Liablity Claims for Financial Institutions?SECURITY

In 2016, most attacks against financial services firms were unknowingly facilitated by “inadvertent actors,” reports IBM. That is, by insiders without malicious intent, such as employees or contractors, who simply clicked a bad link or downloaded the wrong attachment.

A November 2016 survey by Palo Alto, CA-based MetricSream, found that 66.2 percent of financial organizations faced at least one cybersecurity attack over the preceding year. In 33 percent of data breach attempts against financial services firms, the attackers succeeded, according to  Accenture [PDF], based on its own findings.

CIOs and CISOs in the financial services sector face mounting challenges. Cybersecurity talent shortage, outdated toolsets and new regulations make it difficult to ensure regulatory compliance and minimize risk across their organizations.

While the industry may have reversed the overall trend of year-over-year data breaches, as the ITRC Data Breach Report for 2016 [PDF] and the 2017 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index (more below) indicate, this achievement has come at a price.

Topics: Security

When URL Filtering Fails, This Secure Browser Has Your Back

Posted by Gerd Meissner

Apr 11, 2017

Illustration: Infographic - Silo, the Remote Secure Enterprise Browser with Secure Web Gateway (SWG) IntegrationCORPORATE NEWS, SECURITY

Too frequently, URL filtering fails to catch malicious websites, or it blocks resources that employees need to do their job. With its new secure web gateway (SWG) integration Authentic8’s remote secure browser Silo now helps enterprises close this security gap.


Secure web gateway (SWG) solutions provide a generally reliable way for the enterprise to handle users’ web requests, allowing some sites to be accessed and others to be blocked.

To maintain security and efficiency, “generally” reliable may not be enough. A web resource that an employee needs may not have been crawled and categorized by the SWG vendor yet. Another URL may have been cataloged, yet somehow ended up in the wrong category. Or a resource that was approved earlier has since been infected with malware.

If the SWG allows users to access a potentially dangerous web resource without protection or security backstop, the consequences to the company could be disastrous.

Because regular browsers fetch and process all code from the web locally, at the endpoint, connecting to an infected website opens the door for malicious software, such as ransomware or spyware, to enter your local IT infrastructure.

Most companies have come to terms with the trip-ups of URL miscategorization. But an even bigger challenge remains:

Beware the uncategorized URL

Should you allow access to a website that has not been classified yet by the SWG vendor? This may expose the local browser and your IT infrastructure to potential security violations.

Or should you simply block all unclassified URLs? This step would likely reduce the efficiency of your business, while increasing the number of angry messages in your inbox from employees who need a particular URL unblocked, and pronto.

Topics: Security, Corporate News

New One-Tab Browser Aims to Boost Productivity on the Web

Posted by Gerd Meissner

Apr 1, 2017

Illustration: Unibrowser SMNEWS, CORPORATE NEWS

Multitasking as bad for business as data breaches, says maker of “Unibrowser”

(MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- April 1, 2017)  A revolutionary “one-tab” web browser that aims to dramatically improve focus and productivity of internet users has been introduced by Silicon Valley-based Authentic8.

Named the “Unibrowser”, the new distraction-free browsing environment was developed based on the latest neuroscience and mindfulness research. Its core feature is one single tab. It has been streamlined for users to exercise restraint when they access the web, and to force focus on the task at hand, instead of multi-tasking.

The launch of the Unibrowser marks a radical departure from industry’s multi-tabbed browser model, which dates back to 1997 and has been blamed for many of modern society’s ills. Authentic8 touts its new browser as a tool to fight “task inflation” and to achieve measurable  “attention deficit reduction.”

Topics: Corporate News

How to Build Better Cybersecurity Habits in a Large Enterprise in Just Four Weeks

Posted by Gerd Meissner

Mar 2, 2017

How to Build Better Cybersecurity Habits in a Large Enterprise in Just Four Weeks - InfoSec Luminary Lineup IllustrationSECURITY

“You have four weeks to create strong cybersecurity habits in a business with 500+ employees. What would you do, and why?”

Granted - such a request “may indicate a big problem in [the board’s] understanding of security,” as Fred Scholl (Monarch Information Networks) points out below, because in this scenario,  “[t]he CISO has failed to proactively educate leadership.”

We posed the question to our circle of InfoSec Luminary Lineup contributors anyway. Nothing focuses the mind like a deadline.

Jordan McQuown, CIO at LogicForce Consulting, writes in response: “[U]ser awareness, reinforcement and training are key to improving security habits.” So how do we get there, fast? Jordan reminds us that “[t]ypical attackers are looking for easy targets” - and provides ample advice how to frustrate their plans.

Richard Caplan (LeClairRyan) points out the importance “to clarify the rules and responsibilities” in such a concerted effort. And like Jordan McQuown , Joseph Raczynski (Thomson Reuters Legal) urges CISOs to create teachable moments:  “Companies need to phish their own employees.”

Steve Durbin, Managing Director of the UK-based Information Security Forum (ISF), includes a warning in his contribution. Given the time restraints in this scenario, he writes, “[l]ooking for a silver bullet will be a waste of time.”

A8 InfoSec Luminary Lineup Theme Image:Four weeks to build strong cybersecurity habits in a large enterprise

Steve advises to step back and understand the bigger picture first, then “let risk drive the solution” His “Ten tips on how to make cybersecurity a habit on a deadline” round out this InfoSec Luminary Lineup.

Tip #4 on his instructive list below is our favorite. Why?

Topics: Security

8 Must-have Features of a Secure Browser (2)

Posted by Gerd Meissner

Feb 7, 2017

Illustration: Empty Canvas - 8 Must-have Features of a Secure Browser (2)SECURITY

Regular browsers, such as the one that came with your PC or mobile device, are leaking data on the internet like a sieve. The inherent vulnerabilities of the local browser model allow criminal hackers to infiltrate computers and steal or manipulate data.

Firewalls or antivirus software provide little or no protection against modern attackers and their tools. Browser add-ons, plugins and extensions promising “extra” security and privacy cannot be trusted. Their makers were even caught selling out private user data.

Because the “traditional” browser architecture is inherently unsafe and promoting data leakage,  a new generation of secure browsers has been developed for security-conscious companies and consumers.

Not all supposedly “secure” browsers are equal, and some are not secure at all. How can you tell the difference?

In this second part of “8 Must-Have Features of a Secure Browser” (read Part 1 here), we examine another four features and capabilities your browser must have to deserve the label “secure” for business or personal use.

Topics: Security

Ransomware: Majority of U.S. Businesses Unprepared for Attacks

Posted by Gerd Meissner

Jan 24, 2017

Thumbnail: Ransomware: Majority of U.S. Companies Unprepared for Ransomware Attack - Illustration for Authentic8 blog postSECURITY

A new survey shows that 66 percent of IT professionals identify ransomware as a serious threat. Yet only 13 percent say their company is prepared to handle it.

Topics: Security

2016 Revisited: Data Breach Trends and Numbers

Posted by Gerd Meissner

Jan 9, 2017

Thumbnail: IT Security Sinkhole - Illustration for Authentic8 blog postSECURITY

What were the biggest data breaches in 2016? How did federal agencies’ cybersecurity hold up last year, compared to 2015, with its disastrous OPM hack? Did ransomware live up to, or even beat, the dire predictions? Which industries got hacked most, and why?

We’ve pulled together summary posts and publications worth returning to, as a quick reference to consult when needed in the year ahead.

Topics: Security

What is the Most Underestimated IT Security Threat, and Why?

Posted by Gerd Meissner

Dec 19, 2016

What is the most underestimated IT security threat, and why? - InfoSec Luminary Lineup IllustrationSECURITY

One of the most chilling developments in IT security this past year were the cyber attacks reported on energy utilities and manufacturing plants, which exploited critical infrastructure vulnerabilities introduced by the convergence of IT and Operational Technology (OT). Yet they were barely noticed by the broader public, not nearly as much as Hillary Clinton pulling rank on her IT staff to use a private email server.

Time for a reality check? For our InfoSec Luminary Lineup blog discussion series, we asked cybersecurity leaders and experts: “What is the most underestimated IT security threat, and why?”

In their responses, they don’t dabble in technicalities of the vulnerability-de-jour variety. Instead, all of our contributors paint the bigger picture.

It isn’t pretty. The most underestimated IT security threat is…

Topics: Security

8 Must-have Features of a Secure Browser (1)

Posted by Gerd Meissner

Dec 1, 2016

8 Must-have Features of a Secure BrowserSECURITY

Regular browsers have become the most common inroad for hackers to infiltrate your computer and steal or manipulate your data.

Traditional approaches of network or endpoint security, such as advanced firewalls or antivirus software, have not kept pace with the problem.

This is why a new generation of “secure” browsers has emerged. But not all supposedly “secure” browsers are equal, and some are not even secure.

What are the features and capabilities that make a browser secure and safe, for business or personal use?

Topics: Security