Meet the Exec: Marty Roesch

"I think the group at Cisco is a good-natured group that really does see the opportunity to improve security on a global level"
Mention the name Marty Roesch to anyone remotely interested in cybersecurity, and their ears will inevitably perk up. You see, he's a celebrity in the cybersecurity world, having created Snort, a network Intrusion Detection System back in the late 1990's. Now Roesch is the Chief Architect of Cisco's Security Business Group. In a recent interview with Focus Magazine, he talked candidly about the current state of security and how he got his start.

Focus Magazine: You're the founder of Sourcefire, which Cisco acquired in 2013. What's it like going from leading your own company to joining the behemoth that is Cisco?

Marty Roesch: It's very different. You go from waking up under the flag of your own creation every day to waking up under this new flag and it's a different vibe. I'd say to some degree, it's less visceral. I started Sourcefire in my house back in 2001, so it was very much every bit of me in that company. This is a lot bigger, and you can make bigger changes in the industry on the one hand, but on the other hand, it's not as organic. It's a huge professional company with a major global impact and you have to think differently when you're operating on that scale.

I have very strong opinions on the right ways to use certain areas of security, especially when it comes to keeping hackers out of your networks, but I'm a little more tempered these days. I can certainly dig my heels in, but I think as a group, especially at the leadership level, we have a lot of mature people who know a lot about security, who are capable of getting to a decision point where we can all live with the result. I think the group at Cisco is a good-natured group that really does see the opportunity to improve security on a global level.
Focus Magazine: I'm fascinated by Snort! Is that a Snort Pig on your desk?

Marty Roesch: Yes, it is. I call him Snorty. Focus Magazine: Full disclosure, I didn't know anything about Snort until I started doing some research on you. For people like me, can you tell me what it is and how you came up with the name and logo?

Marty Roesch:What it is today is the core of our security technology, what our Next Generation Firewall and Intrusion Prevention System runs on now.

Snort is 19 years old, able to drive, and go to college. (laughing)

Back in the mid 90's, when I first got into security in my mid to late 20s, I wrote my own tools. One of the tools I wrote was a thing called a sniffer, and that was the basis for Snort. Continue »