Launching the Cyber Intelligence News Site The Record

August 24, 2020 • Caitlin Mattingly

Recorded Future recently announced the launch of a new cyber intelligence news site called The Record by Recorded Future. The publication aims to fill the gap between fast-breaking headlines and long-lead research with expertly sourced reporting and analysis.

Our guest this week is the editorial director of The Record by Recorded Future, Adam Janofsky. He shares his background in cybersecurity, privacy, and technology journalism, including prestigious publications like The Wall Street Journal. He shares his aspirations for where he and his colleagues plan to take The Record by Recorded Future, as well as his insights on the state of cybersecurity journalism.

This podcast was produced in partnership with the CyberWire.

For those of you who’d prefer to read, here’s the transcript:

This is Recorded Future, inside threat intelligence for cybersecurity.

Dave Bittner:

Hello everyone, and welcome to episode 172 of the Recorded Future podcast. I’m Dave Bittner from the CyberWire.

Recorded Future recently announced the launch of a new cyber intelligence news site called The Record by Recorded Future. The publication aims to fill the gap between fast-breaking headlines and long-lead research with expertly sourced reporting and analysis.

Our guest this week is the Editorial Director of The Record by Recorded Future, Adam Janofsky. He shares his background in cybersecurity, privacy, and technology journalism, including prestigious publications like The Wall Street Journal. He shares his aspirations for where he and his colleagues plan to take The Record by Recorded Future, as well as his insights on the state of cybersecurity journalism.

Adam Janofsky:

My whole career has been in journalism. I started as the editor of my college newspaper and immediately came to New York to intern first for The Wall Street Journal and then Bloomberg News, writing about startups and a little bit of technology, and I got completely lucky with those positions and those beats. At the time, startups were really starting to catch fire. Facebook was in the news for not only it’s launch, but it’s very high profile public offering.

So after covering startups, that was able to morph into cybersecurity. When The Wall Street Journal was launching more cybersecurity coverage, they were hiring three cybersecurity reporters dedicated to the beat, and I’ve been writing about the topic ever since then for the past four years.

And most recently, I had left The Wall Street Journal to join a publication that launched right before the pandemic started called Protocol, which was not the best timing to launch a publication. But yeah, now I’m reporting about cybersecurity for this new publication, The Record, which Recorded Future is launching. By the time of this podcast, it will hopefully already be launched, and I’m very excited about it.

Dave Bittner:

Yeah. Well, we’re going to dig into some of the details about The Record in a little bit, but before we get to that, I’m curious, can you give us some insights on what it’s like being a journalist on the cybersecurity beat? What was that like for you shifting to that topic, getting up to speed and covering the folks who are doing their day-to-day business in that part of the world? What was that experience like for you?

Adam Janofsky:

Yeah, absolutely. The topic has probably one of the steepest learning curves of any journalistic discipline. As I mentioned, my background is not in computer science. I did not know how to code. I didn’t really know anything about state-sponsored hackers or TTPs or all of this jargon that anyone that you talk to in the industry use as second nature or their second language. For me it was a very quick learning curve where I had to catch myself up. And I think maybe six months after I started covering the topic, that was when the world was rocked by WannaCry, and then soon after, NotPetya, and that was a trial by fire.

Dave Bittner:

So what was it like having the resources and the backing of an organization with the reputation of The Wall Street Journal? I mean, that must have been a great place to have surround you.

Adam Janofsky:

It was. It’s a pretty humbling experience when you’re just out of college and you call up a CEO who’s at the top of their game or a cybersecurity analyst that everyone respects. And you’re this 22 year old who has no idea about anything in the industry and you say, “I’m a reporter from The Wall Street Journal, can you help explain this very basic topic for me?” and they make themselves available. So it’s a nice luxury to have, definitely when you’re starting to cover something.

And The Wall Street Journal itself is one of the best organizations in terms of the journalistic expertise that they have in-house, just being able to sit a couple of desks away from Pulitzer Prize winners, or John Carreyrou was not too far away from where I sat. And during my time there, he wrote the book Bad Blood, which was all over the news. So it was just a humbling experience to be around literally thousands of journalists who are reporting about the biggest stories of the day.

Dave Bittner:

What are your thoughts in terms of the state of things when it comes to journalism covering cybersecurity in general, the spectrum of the types of coverage that you’ve seen? Do you have any thoughts on that?

Adam Janofsky:

Yeah, I think we’re at a real inflection point where a lot of, not only journalistic organizations, but also the audience is waking up to the fact that we’re in a different time when it comes to cybersecurity, that this is a topic that affects not just every organization in every industry, but it affects every government agency, it affects individuals. Even your grandmother who might not have any idea how to use basic internet applications knows that hackers are trying to get her data. And so I think that it’s a time where there’s a need for more cybersecurity news, a need for more informed and educated cybersecurity journalists. So I think it’s a really good time to be covering the industry.

And in terms of, just to answer your question a little bit more specifically about the landscape, I think we’re in a healthy spot where some publications are focused on the hackers. They take a look at specific events and get really detailed and technical, and other publications are focusing on breaches and news, since there’s a ton of news with this topic. I don’t think that there are that many publications that fill the gap to be informative towards the average cybersecurity professional or somebody who has an interest in the topic, but isn’t an expert in it. So I think that there’s a lot of room there for extra coverage.

Dave Bittner:

Well, let’s dig into your efforts with Recorded Future and the launch of The Record. Give us some of the background here. What prompted the creation of this new publication?

Adam Janofsky:

Yeah, I got lucky because it was something that the people at Recorded Future had been planning on for a while and I was just fortunate enough that they pulled me into it. But the idea is that Recorded Future is a company that collects cybersecurity intelligence and threat intelligence from across, not only the open internet, but the dark web and analytic reports. They had this vision of creating a new site that would use the insights gained from the platform that it has, but also from other vendors — from CISOs at industries that are fighting these battles every day, from government agencies, to just bring it all together and give cybersecurity analysts and CISOs and other executives the news and insights that can help them do their job.

Dave Bittner:

Can you give us some insights on what we might expect? I mean, how, how is this going to expand upon the types of things that people are familiar with from Recorded Future already, those threat intelligence feeds, those sorts of insights, how is this going to enhance those things?

Adam Janofsky:

Yeah, I think the biggest difference is going to be the format. It’s going to be a news publication true and true. So we’re going to start with a website that has multiple stories every week, and then do newsletters, do podcasts. I’m not going to compete with you though, but we have plans to turn it into a news empire in a similar way. I think the thinking goes, if you look back at something like Bloomberg 35 years ago when they were a software company that was collecting market intelligence and they had the brilliant idea to hire reporters and to mine some of that intelligence and turn it into the news that was actually there all along. And they’ve built that into an organization with now more than a thousand journalists across the world. Our ambitions aren’t quite that high, but the same evolution and the same thinking, I think, is something that is going to inform our growth.

Dave Bittner:

And what have been your marching orders? What have they tasked you with in terms of being a traditional journalist and melding your skills, your expertise, with the types of information that Recorded Future is able to provide with their capabilities? What sorts of things are you looking forward to being able to do?

Adam Janofsky:

Well, I think that right now the marching orders are that they want it to be independent. They want it to be a media organization where we’re not afraid to publish research from other companies and we’re not afraid to go out and talk to CISOs at any enterprise, whether it’s a technology company or something totally different like an infrastructure company. But the mission is to just make sure that we’re covering the cybersecurity stories that we think professionals should be paying attention to, and trying to tell those stories in a way that really can help people do their jobs and stay informed.

Dave Bittner:

I’m wondering if you have any advice or tips for the folks who are out there who are consuming cybersecurity news? As someone who’s been on the other side of it, writing it, creating it, doing the research, putting that shoe leather out on the street as it were, any suggestions for the best way for people to approach reading the stories that are out there?

Adam Janofsky:

That’s a great question, and I guess that it’s also a question that I ask myself all the time, too, because there’s a lot of different publications out there, a lot of different information. It’s hard to find sources that are both thorough, where they’re things at a regular cadence, but also understandable and reliable. And I think that the only insight that I can really give is to understand that, for the most part, people who are writing about cybersecurity are, first and foremost, journalists. They’re not cybersecurity experts. They might not have a background in computer engineering. So it’s important to take everything with a grain of salt and to read closely where they’re getting their information. Are they citing their sources? What are their sources? Is it government data? Is it from different companies or does it seem to not really come from anywhere that’s trusted?

And also, just the individuals that they quote, are they anonymous? And if they are anonymous, then are they giving a good reason why they’re anonymous? Are they trying to give you as much information about them as they can? And if they’re named, then of course, where are they coming from and do they have the authority to talk about the topics in a way that really gives it justice?

I think the big thing that you learn in journalism is to never rely on just one source of information, and that’s especially true when it comes to something as complex as cybersecurity, that if you have one piece of data, that it’s best to run it by as many people as possible and to make sure that your analysis of it is something that is accurate to the best of your knowledge.

Dave Bittner:

Our thanks to Recorded Future’s Adam Janofsky for joining us. The new cyber intelligence news site is titled The Record. You can find it at therecord.media.

Don’t forget to sign up for the Recorded Future Cyber Daily email, where every day you’ll receive the top results for trending technical indicators that are crossing the web, cyber news, targeted industries, threat actors, exploited vulnerabilities, malware, suspicious IP addresses, and much more. You can find that at recordedfuture.com/intel.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the show and that you’ll subscribe and help spread the word among your colleagues and online. The Recorded Future podcast production team includes Coordinating Producer Caitlin Mattingly, Executive Producer Greg Barrette. The show is produced by the CyberWire, with Executive Editor Peter Kilpe, and I’m Dave Bittner.

Thanks for listening.

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