May 14, 2021

The Paranoids: Who We Are and Why We’re Here

Note: Verizon Media is now known as Yahoo.

Earlier this year, I spoke to a woman named Mary — not her real name —in Texas.

I was participating in a user study that paired Verizon Media executives with those who rely on our services. The goal was to discover exactly why people come to Yahoo, TechCrunch, Engadget, and AOL, among other iconic brands, for information.

I was matched with this lovely person from Dallas. Mary said she trusted us — especially Yahoo News — because she sees others, big social media companies and traditional news outlets, alike, as biased and slanted. Full of misinformation and controversy.

As a CISO (that’s Chief Information Security Officer), Mary made me think about who we are. Not just as a company, but as a security team.

Verizon Media connects people to the things they care about the most. As the security organization that provides the bedrock and support for that mission, we believe these experiences should be safe and respectful by design.

That’s what sets us apart. Because, rather than solely train our lens on technology, we’re actively thinking about folks like Mary. We strive to make it easy for them to use our services in a safe and secure manner.

We’re not perfect. Sometimes we don’t succeed. But, this is our highest aspiration - whether we’re working with our colleagues or our users. It’s the lens through which we view all of our triumphs and failures.

Indeed, there have been triumphs. In recent years, we’ve invested heavily into cyber defense in part by building a countermeasures team that actively deploys detections and proactively blocks malware. We’ve built a cybersecurity culture internal to Verizon Media built around behavior, not just awareness. Most importantly, we’ve measurably made the Internet a safer place for targeted, abused, and vulnerable people.

Today, we’re launching a blog to tell you more about some of our hardest-fought lessons. Lessons we’ve learned as a result of both very public and not-so-public challenges. And how we’re working to make Verizon Media the safest and most reliable place for Mary —and everyone else — to get their news; connect with their families and friends; and engage with, as well as acquire, the things they love.

About the Paranoids’ Blog:

As of now, we’ve published two posts which I’m really proud of. One is on the work of our internal Forensic and Incident Response team (FIRE). The other is an introduction to a case study we’ve published with a group inside of MIT’s Sloan School of Business, CAMS. In the coming months, we’ll have a podcast highlighting the thoughts, passions, and industry-wide concerns of the security professionals who work inside Verizon Media. We’ll plan on publishing something new once a month. We hope you’ll enjoy it.

Follow us on Twitter @theparanoids so you can join us on this journey. We're hiring!

About the Author:

Sean Zadig is Verizon Media’s Chief Information Security Officer. Before he took on his latest role, Zadig focused on child safety, cybercrime investigation and mitigation, threat intelligence, and protecting users who are targeted by government-sponsored attackers.