The Web Security Aficionado: Oliver Sild In Conversation with WPblog
“Security is the chief enemy of mortals.” Shakespeare, it seems, understood the importance of security more deeply than anyone else. And now that we’re in the digital age, how can we take security so lightly? This is why we’ve invited Oliver Sild, Founder & CEO of WebARX, to have a chat with us and to throw some light on his journey and how his company is adding layers of security one website at a time.
Let’s hear (read) it from the man himself!
WPblog: So before we start with the interview, can you introduce yourself… on VIDEO!
WPblog: Hey, Oliver, it’s an honor to have you on our Interview series. Kuidas sul läheb?
Oliver: Mul läheb väga hästi! Exciting times for me and for WebARX!
WPblog: So what’s your story? Can you give our readers a deeper look into your life (if they don’t already know) and how you ended up creating your own company?
Oliver: I’ve been a bit nerdy my whole life. I started building some websites and programs in PHP and Visual Basic back in seventh grade. At some point, I got into games and was even running private servers for some old RPG’s where I first got introduced to the server and application-side security. Many of these private serves were DDoS’ed and there was often a war between those servers to win players over.
From that point on, I got really excited about security. I started learning different methods to manipulate network traffic, how to make web apps behave as they shouldn’t and showing tricks to friends in school.
Later, I went to study computer networking and was noticed by an Estonian cyber defense league (which is a voluntary military organization) and from the age of 17, I was lucky enough to participate in military exercises as part of a cyber unit. When I was around 20 or so, I started my own company that focused on web app development and web app security and in 2016 (a few years later) I started WebARX. For the past 3 – 4 years I think I’ve spent most of my time building teams and companies and haven’t had much time for coding and hacking anymore.
I miss coding and hacking, though, and will definitely get back to that again at one point.
WPblog: That sounds like a great journey. So what is WebARX about? Can you please tell our readers more about the company and what it does?
Oliver: WebARX is a security platform that protects modern websites built with heavy use of components (such as WordPress). We focus mainly on PHP applications and offer a web application firewall, security monitoring, and tools for application hardening.
On top of all that, we have a cloud-based dashboard where we make it easy for web developers and digital agencies to protect and monitor their sites from a single dashboard – to save time and to not miss any critical information.
Just to give you an idea, some government sites and US politicians’ (Senators) websites built with WordPress trust WebARX for their security.
WPblog: That’s awesome. In this age, protecting your digital presence is absolutely critical. So what has been your biggest challenge in marketing and bringing WebARX to people around the world?
Oliver: It was hard to bring the product to the market in its early stages because it needed to be somewhat more mature than other products that could be released quickly as an MVP. Because when it comes to marketing, we still struggle to find a healthy formula to convey cyber-security issues in an acceptable way without sugarcoating things (which many security products do, especially in the WP ecosystem) and at the same time, keep the messaging as simple as possible for users who are not technical and might not understand the details.
WPblog: That’s true. We do hope more people give your product a go and add protection to their websites. Tell me, Oliver, if you were a WordPress plugin, which one would you be and why? (WebARX is already taken, of course. :D)
Oliver: I think I would be the WP Security Audit Log. Robert has built a great plugin and he has very good experience in cybersecurity in general. This plugin does not give you a false feeling of security and actually provides you a tool to become better and gives you the right mindset which works in the long term.
So I’d definitely be WP Security Audit Log and help WordPress websites keep a proper record of all the security changes!
WPblog: So Oliver, what are some resources that you read and communities that you engage in to learn more about WordPress?
Oliver: I think WordPress has a very vibrant ecosystem and I like to talk to people! Also, there are some podcasts and communities such as WPBuilds, TheAdminBar, SmartWebCreators, AgnecyTrailblazer and some smaller groups, that are mainly WordPress security-specific, that I’m really active in.
So I mainly get my knowledge and other activities from these communities, and anyone who wants to stay up to date with anything security-related can benefit hugely from them as well!
WPblog: Oliver, there are so many great CMSs out there, so why did you choose WordPress?
Oliver: We actually didn’t start from WordPress. We first started from PHP itself, then we worked a bit with Joomla, and then at some point, WordPress just started skyrocketing and became the big elephant in the room you couldn’t ignore. So it was a no-brainer that we needed to develop for WordPress as well, and because of its mass popularity, it’s also one of the main CMSs that needs help with security.
WPblog: Do you think there is a threat to WordPress from “competitors”?
Oliver: Who knows? WordPress in its core is old technology, so there’s definitely room for competition.
WPblog: We hope WordPress thrives for another century. 😉 On that note, could you give our readers one great WordPress tip? (Okay fine, it’s for us, but our audience is going to benefit from it as well so it’s a win-win.)
Oliver: Choose plugins wisely, delete all in-active plugins/themes, and update them as soon as possible. Generate your passwords using a password management tool (like KeePass and LastPass, etc.) and use a WordPress security solution that has a firewall with virtual patches.
WPblog: Great suggestions. Now Oliver, of course, Gutenberg is becoming an old story, but it’s still important to know: what do you think about it?
Oliver: We are using it. I think it’s great!
WPblog: That’s a precise, clear answer! 😀 What’s your secret to a successful WordPress career?
Oliver: Learn, be active in the community, contribute!
Marvel or DC? Marvel
Dog or Cat? Dog
Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad? Breaking Bad
Twitter or Facebook? Twitter
WPblog: We’re fascinated with how the workspaces of people powering the internet look like. Show us your work desk. No changes, no cleanups. 😉
Oliver: Can’t do that. It’s confidential. (all my screens have privacy filters, so even people next to me can’t see a thing..)
WPblog: That makes us want to see it even more, but we respect privacy, haha! 😉 How about a selfie with your business logo in the background or something?
Oliver: I’m really shy.
WPblog: We’ll stop bugging you for private stuff now. Before we part, who would you nominate for our next interview?
Oliver: Robert Abela from WP Security Audit Log
Alright, Robert Abela, you’ve been nominated, so we’re coming after you next.
Readers, hopefully, this interview proved to be a learning experience for you all. WebARX is a great tool and it is highly suggested that you give it a go test ride to see it if it’s a great solution for your company or not. Even if you don’t, Oliver has given us some great tips on how to improve our security, and since security is a crucial component of any business, there’s no reason you should take it lightly.
See you guys in our next interviews, which, with your suggestions and feedback, we’ll keep improving with time!
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