Karim Hijazi, Founder & CEO at Prevailion and host of the Introverted Iconoclast podcast, comes to Hacker Valley Studio to discuss his varied experiences in entrepreneurship. With a humble start in bartending, Karim explains how learning about people inspired his exploration into counterespionage and cybersecurity. Armed with stories from the streets of NYC to the hallways of his own companies, this episode is a look into the mind of a successful entrepreneur and founder of 2 incredible businesses.
[00:00] Bartending in NYC and its overlap with espionage and entrepreneurship
[07:14] Real-life knowledge application in cyber intelligence
[12:15] Founding Unveillance and being acquired by Mandiant
[18:22] Karim’s entrepreneurial mindset and his journey with Prevailion
[24:51] DIY podcasting with Introverted Iconoclast and learning to tell his stories
Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and AttackIQ for bringing this episode to life!
Want to learn more about how Mindbody enhanced their asset visibility and increased their cybersecurity maturity rating with Axonius? Check out axonius.com/mindbody AttackIQ - better insights, better decisions, and real security outcomes. That's why we partnered with them to create free cybersecurity trainings! Check it out at academy.attackiq.com
How do your experiences in bartending and espionage overlap?
The jobs taken as a means to an end just might teach something invaluable. This was the case for Karim, who took a job bartending to make ends meet while he figured out what he wanted to do with his future. At the time, cybersecurity and counterespionage weren’t on Karim’s radar, but bartending taught him about people; how they act when they want something and how to connect with them even in the busiest and most public places. Learning this changed the game for Karim when he got into the espionage world and assisted him even more so when he became an entrepreneur in the industry.
“It's just learning the way to slowly gain a confidence level with someone. It's actually where the word "con man" comes from, confidence man. Ultimately, that is how you get the information you need.”
What are the different aspects that organizations or individuals look at with counterintelligence?
At Karim’s own firm, the shift from competitive intelligence to counterintelligence focused around three security aspects. One, identifying weak spots and vulnerabilities, noticing your points of exploitations and vectors of attack. Two, taking advantage of disinformation, using it to root out moles within an organization and throw off cyber adversaries. Finally, three, finding out where your information is going and noticing where there is weaker security than your own. Karim emphasizes that in this third aspect, it is not so much about an organization’s strategy when the information is still at home. It’s harder to secure information once it goes elsewhere.
“A controlled rumor within an organization can do several things. It can weed out a mole that you may have, a spy within your organization that maybe you don't know about, that's been able to be hired and gotten through the background checks and whatnot.”
When you look back to starting your journey as an entrepreneur, what are some of the wrong assumptions you made early on?
Karim, like many entrepreneurs, was under the impression when he founded his first company, Unveillance, that he should be seeking to hire, not to do anything himself. While hiring is an important part of being a business owner, Karim has realized that it's better to learn how every piece of the machine of a company works before hiring. Trying things out for himself and taking a chance on his own abilities hasn’t been easy, but it’s made him a better leader for his employees. If they drop the ball or need his assistance, he’s able to lead from a place of understanding and call the shots with his own vision in mind and his own knowledge to back him up.
“As a CEO, it's almost imperative for you to go and try it all, even if you fumble through it and you get by with something that is subpar. It's better to have tried it and understand it, so now you know how to call the shots a little better.”
What prompted you to start your podcast, Introverted Iconoclast?
Ironically enough, Karim’s podcast was a do-it-yourself project born out of having an employee drop the ball on creating it for him. Relying on himself and struggling his way through the beginning, Karim realized that podcasting is not just about the equipment and the idea behind it, it’s about the stories being told. Focusing on the lead up and context around some of his own career stories and professional highlights, Karim was able to discover the rhythm for his podcast and build a solid foundation of content that opened up doors for new topics to be addressed and new guests to welcome onto his show.
“It's very cathartic for me. Speaking the stories out loud, rather than just sort of regaling people over a dinner or thinking back on them nostalgically, is extremely interesting because you remember things you don't remember when you're casually talking about them.”
Check out Prevailion on their website
Purchase a HVS t-shirt at our shop
Continue the conversation by joining our Discord
Nick Lantuh, CEO of Interpres Security, joins Ron Eddings on the mic at Hacker Valley’s “On the Big Screen” event to talk about how Nick’s previous career experience have given him unique insight into the cyber...
In this episode, Host Ron Eddings is joined by Vishal Dixit, Co-founder & CTO at Graphus Inc., and Sven Bechmann, Senior Product Manager of Email Security at Kaseya to dig into how phishing attacks are evol...
In this episode, Andrew Forgie takes us on his journey from his early days as an Apache helicopter mechanic in the military to his current role as a regional sales manager in cybersecurity. Andrew shares his t...
In this episode of Hacker Valley Studio, we dive into the inspiring journey of Zinet Kamal, an immigrant from Ethiopia who has carved a niche for herself in cybersecurity. Despite starting her journey with limi...
In this episode, Host Ron Eddings catches up with repeat guest, Gary Hayslip, CISO at SoftBank Investment Advisors and co-author of CISO Desk Reference guide. Gary explains that the varied nature of his current...
In this episode, Host Ron Eddings and guest Or Eshed, CEO of Layer X, discuss how changes in IT infrastructure, employee behavior and malicious tech have created an era where browser security is a must. Or deta...
In this episode, Host Ron Eddings talks with guest Isaac Clayton, Senior Research Engineer at NetSPI. Ron and Isaac discuss the importance of ASM for organizations of all sizes, the challenges of asset identifi...
In this episode, Host Ron Eddings dives deep into crafting a resilient cybersecurity approach with guest speaker Bill Bernard, VP of Security Strategy at Deepwatch. Bill discusses the necessity of understanding...
In this episode, we’ll take a walk down memory lane. Hacker Valley looks back to 2023 to bring you some of the best clips with great advice and insight into being more creative, reflective, and resourceful with...
In this episode, Host Ron Eddings, discusses new tactics of adversaries with Director of Threat Research at Sysdig, Michael Clark. Michael digs into the cloud and shares trends about the AMBERSQUID operation an...
Are you the best kept secret in cybersecurity? Let's change that by partnering together for podcast ads, social campaigns, and your next event or keynote. Send us your details to get started.