Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Authors To Watch: George Finney, author of No More Magic Wands

GEORGE FINNEY, ESQ., has worked in Cybersecurity for over 15 years and is the author of No More Magic Wands: Transformative Cybersecurity Change for Everyone. He is currently the Chief Information Security Officer for Southern Methodist University where he has also taught on the subject of Corporate Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. Mr. Finney is an attorney and is a Certified Information Privacy Professional as well as a Certified Information Security Systems Professional and has spoken on Cybersecurity topics across the country.



Book Blurb:
Once upon a time there was a company that made magic wands, but when they were hacked all the magic in the world couldn’t prevent their data from being stolen. If that company had a chance for a clean start, what would they have done differently? The unlikely hero isn’t a security guy. She’s a business elf who makes it her mission to change the way her company does business from the top down.

Most books on Cybersecurity are written for highly technical professionals, focus on specific compliance regulations, or are intended for reference. No More Magic Wands is takes complex security concepts and puts them into practice in easy to read, relateable stories.

No More Magic Wands is available at AMAZON

Tell us a little about yourself.
First and foremost, I’m a sci-fi nerd.  I got teared-up when I saw the movie, The Martian.  Then I got teared-up again when I read the book even though I knew what was going to happen.  I’m more of a trekkie than a jedi, but I think they both fall short of what James Corey is doing with The Expanse series.  Somewhere along the way to becoming a writer, I got into technology, then became a lawyer, then got into cybersecurity.  Having a career has felt a lot like what I expected being an adult to feel like, but now that I’ve tied my writing to my profession I feel like a kid again.
When did you begin writing?
I’ve been a writer for a long time.  It’s always been a hobby, and I’ve had this dream of being a writer.  But when it came time to get a job, I realized that writing didn’t necessarily come with health care or a retirement plan.  Instead, I went into technology and after I went through law school, I started to focus on cybersecurity.  I love my job, and I realized that I could start to follow my dream by writing about cybersecurity.  I started a cybersecurity blog and eventually wrote my book, No More Magic Wands.
Can you tell us about your most recent release?
No More Magic Wands is a kind of case study about a company that has been hacked.  This company just happens to make magic wands. I wanted to explore the idea of how a company would respond if they could use magic to solve all their problems like we sometimes jokingly say at work. While there is some magic involved, ultimately the enchanted forest creatures have to work together to fix their company.  Each chapter is a kind of fable focusing on a particular security concept.
How did you get the idea for the book?
When I became Chief Security Officer, my boss hired an executive coach for me to continue developing my leadership skills.  At the same time, I was teaching an introduction to cybersecurity class for undergraduates.  Instead of focusing on the technical aspects of cybersecurity, I focused on the big picture.  In light of the leadership topics that I had been working on, this meant that I began to focus on people.  I wanted to write a book that someone with no technical background could pick up and start to understand the basics of security, and actually enjoy themselves while they were reading it.
Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
The main character of the story is Harmony Evergreen. She is the daughter of the founder of a magic wand company and takes over the company from her father. I had originally written the character as a man, but something my wife said challenged me. I had written the book with only a handful of female characters, and when she pointed this out, I was astonished. I rewrote the character as a woman, and it made the story so much better. I have a daughter and I want her to be inspired that she can run a business one day.  Women are becoming a bigger part of the workforce and are increasingly a part of the management of companies. These companies will need strong leaders who understand cybersecurity. And we need more women in the cybersecurity profession.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
The subject of cybersecurity is massive in scale and very technical in nature. Writing a story for normal people that doesn’t get too technical or too preachy can be a big challenge. This is part of why I wrote the book through stories or fables. I want to make cybersecurity fun and approachable.  
What projects are you currently working on?
I’ve made a new year’s resolution to write a blog post every week,, focusing on the leadership and business aspects of cybersecurity.  My hope is to turn this into my second book, but I want to keep readers having fun by writing choose your own adventure stories to help illustrate how to spot common social engineering techniques and hopefully prevent them.

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