1. Analysis
June 1, 2022

CTO Talk: Q&A with Mark Kedgley of Netwrix

Ransomware gangs threaten businesses and cryptocurrencies are making things worse, Netwrix's CTO says

By Eric Johansson

Mark Kedgley is the CTO of Netwrix. The California-based IT security software company develops software to help organisations control and secure sensitive, regulated and business-critical data.

Kedgley began his journey to become the CTO of Netwrix in 2009 when he co-founded New Net Technologies. The company was later acquired by Netwrix.

In his new CTO role, Kedgley is responsible for driving ongoing product development of Netwrix Change Tracker. The objective is to protect sensitive data against security threats in the most efficient and cost-effective manner, while maintaining market-leading ease of use.

In the latest Q&A in our CTO Talks series, the Netwrix CTO compares himself to Bill Gates, warns of the growing threat from ransomware gangs and how cryptocurrencies exacerbate the threat.

Eric Johansson: Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you end up in your current role?

Mark Kedgley: I ask myself the same question most days. I completed a physics degree at the University of Birmingham and during the summer holidays made my way into a tech support role supporting an X.25 network run by McDonnell Information Systems, despite not really having any knowledge or experience. This lucky coincidence led me to where I am now, as I have remained working in IT ever since.

I was one of the founders of New Net Technologies back in 2009 and served as CTO until June 2021, when the business was acquired by Netwrix. Now, I am largely continuing in the same role but with the benefit of being part of the Netwrix family which gives us lots more muscle on all fronts, sales, support, and development.

Where did your interest in tech come from?

Prior to entering the university, I had an affinity to computers – like a young Bill Gates, I was making money from code while still at school. However, unlike Bill Gates, there was only one game listing published in a weekly computer magazine when I was 11 and I was paid £10 for it. In those days there were no torrents or websites. It was literally the programme printed out in the magazine for everyone else to type into their Vic 20 computer if they too wanted to experience the breathless excitement of the game Speed Run.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the cybersecurity space right now?

I would name ransomware. Cryptocurrency gave threat actors a far less traceable way of receiving ransom money. Moreover, ransomware-as-a-service now makes it easy to scale this business. Any organisation can be caught out at any time. Threat actors want to exploit identities and infrastructure to get to the data. Here at Netwrix, we work to address all three of these threat vectors with data being the ‘most important among equals’.

What one piece of advice would you offer to other CTOs?

Firstly, surround yourself with as many clever and hard-working people as you can. Secondly, never stand still. If you aren’t continually embracing new technologies, then you will fall behind. Yes, you are always shooting yourself in the foot, dealing with problems that you introduced as a consequence of innovation. However, that is actually a major part of the role. No pain, no gain.

What’s the most surprising thing about your job?

Just how much gets done by the team we have. We don’t have the world’s biggest development team but the ability to create solutions to problems being faced by our customers is second to none.

What’s the biggest technological challenge facing humanity?

Digitalisation of our everyday lives via smart devices, smart homes, smart cities and more. Our personal information is circulating in numerous systems, our faces are being automatically recognised, our home networks are becoming a part of bad actors’ botnets without us knowing it. Infosecurity becomes a personal matter which puts evolving pressure on any organisation. We were used to proving compliance – now, we will be getting used to personally proving to each customer the security of their data.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done for fun?

I’ve done plenty of boring work tasks for fun – testing software and building new reports over weekends, for instance. I am also slightly obsessed with donating platelets, even though it involves having a needle stuck in my arm for over an hour at a time. Proudly, I’ve provided over 150 donations now.

What’s the most important thing happening in your field at the moment?

We are just starting to see the upside of some of the new collaborations we’ve initiated when Change Tracker joined the Netwrix portfolio. As I mentioned, we really do have a unique opportunity to genuinely protect and control the key attack surfaces of identity, infrastructure, and data. Data theft and cybersecurity breaches continue to grow, and the market needs a far more cohesive and simpler way to deliver security, which I think we are well-placed to do.

In another life you’d be?

This is the only thing I am good at, so I am not sure that I would have pursued at anything else.

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