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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
LUIS IBARRA
CTO, PingWind  | Forbes Technology Council Member

IN THE SPOTLIGHT- October - Luis Ibarra.jpg

October, 2023
Photos by Pablo Roldan

Where are you from and what brought you to DC?

I am from Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua. My journey to DC was a long one that started with my parents eventually migrating to the United States for better opportunities. At 18, I joined the United States Coast Guard (USCG), where I learned much about leadership, service to others, and more importantly, myself. The confidence and self-respect I gained during my service in the Coast Guard turned out to be invaluable as the stepping stone to what is now an exciting and surreal career. After leaving the Coast Guard and venturing into the IT federal contracting space, I eventually ended up in DC, where many large government contracting companies are headquartered.

 

What is the most special part of your story, or the part that stands out to you the most?

I am particularly proud of having been inducted into the Alpha Sigma Nu honor society after completing my graduate degree with honors. It takes more than just a high GPA to get inducted. The GPA opens the door to an invitation, but to walk through it, you must show a path of service to others by way of external written recommendations to the selection board. This honor is one of the primary reasons I contribute my service to the Coast Guard as it’s been the learning experience of a lifetime. More recently an invitation to join the Forbes Technology Council is of particular importance in my career and one that helps validate the path I have taken in my story – my journey.

 

At a high level, how would you describe what you do at PingWind?

I often introduce myself as Head Nerd to help simplify what I do. At a high level, as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and an equity partner in the company, I define and implement the company's technology strategy, help identify and support our other rockstar teams with opportunities for innovation and growth, and ensure the scalability and security of our technical infrastructure. Of course, I also take on a hands-on role in software development, system architecture design, or other operational nerdy tasks I won't bore your readers with.

 

What do most people misunderstand about cybersecurity?

I can write an entire article on this topic, but the two most misunderstood things about cybersecurity are the belief that cybersecurity is solely the responsibility of IT professionals and assuming their antivirus suites provide complete protection against cyber threats. Our entire lives are proliferated by technology, thereby making every individual using technology play a role in practicing sound security is a must. While having antivirus software is an essential component of a cybersecurity strategy, it is not a silver bullet. It can help detect and block known threats but may not always catch sophisticated or zero-day attacks. Everyone needs to be vigilant and combine antivirus software with other security measures like regular software updates, strong long passwords, and safe online practices.

 

What are the most critical things that businesses should be paying attention to in regards to cybersecurity?

We should all be paying attention to the speed by which bad actors are using the inclusion and proliferation of AI in our industry for malicious and nefarious actions. AI is adding an element of sophistication to the cybersecurity space we are still not prepared to deal with adequately, as intelligent bots are increasingly used to automate phishing and identity theft attacks across the industry.

 

What are the 3 items you never leave home without when you travel?

 My phone, my laptop, and chargers for my phone and laptop. Everything else I forget I can buy on the other side of the trip.

 

What are you reading right now?

I typically like to move between two books. I keep one by my bedside and another in my computer bag, going everywhere I go. At the moment those two reads are Decoding the Metaverse by Chris Duffey and Quantum Computing by Dr. Chuck Easttom.

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