For those of us who worked with Alan, his driving force was a vision that never wavered: security could only be improved by raising the quality of security operations by increasing and professionalizing the skill levels of security teams and managers. We often say security success is a mixture of people, process, and technology – Alan reminded us that those people need to have deep, hands-on skills to create and run impactful security processes as well as to select and develop effective security technologies, tools, and products.
Alan’s commitment to that vision over the years helped keep SANS focused on having the best security instructors developing the most effective courses and always measuring success of every SANS course or conference by making sure it met his number one criterion: the student or attendee must be able to go back to work afterward and do something new and better – not just be able to talk about new and better security. Equally important, Alan instilled in SANS the idea that if SANS stayed focused on helping the security community “fight the good fight,” success would always follow. Alan championed and dedicated SANS resources to increasing essential security hygiene, security team diversity, and growing the number of people joining the cybersecurity profession long before any profit was possible from those efforts.
On a personal level, if you were part of an effort with Alan that was fighting the good security fight and were lucky enough to have Alan introduce you at a conference or meeting, his lavish praise was legendary and inspiring. The security community is a better place for Alan’s tireless efforts over the past 30+ years. At SANS we already miss him intensely and we will work hard to continue to live up to his guiding vision.