Facebook Hires Ex-Yahoo CISO Alex Stamos

Facebook has hired away the top security executive at Yahoo, Alex Stamos, to become the company’s new CSO.

Stamos said Wednesday that he is joining Facebook because he believes the company is in the best position to address some of the large security challenges facing users and companies right now.

“There is no company in the world that is better positioned to tackle the challenges faced not only by today’s Internet users but for the remaining 2/3rds of humanity we have yet to connect. The Facebook security team has demonstrated a history of innovation as well as a unique willingness to share those innovations with the world, and we will build upon that history in the years to come,” Stamos said in a post Wednesday.

A longtime industry executive, Stamos joined Yahoo as CISO in March 2014 and quickly set about working on upgrading the security of that company’s many services. One of the first moves he made was to address Yahoo’s lack of encryption on its platforms. One of the more damaging bits of information contained in the Snowden documents was the revelation that the NSA and British GCHQ had been tapping fiber optic cables used by major Internet companies, including Google and Yahoo. The news infuriated engineers at the companies, and Google quickly responded by accelerating its project to encrypt the links among its data centers.

A month after arriving at Yahoo, Stamos announced that the company was making the same move. Yahoo also enabled encryption between its mail servers and other email providers, and earlier this year the company released an extension that enabled end-to-end encryption for all Yahoo email users. All search queries and traffic to the Yahoo home page also run over HTTPS by default now.

During his time at Yahoo, Stamos also built an enviable roster of security talent in a group known internally as the Yahoo Paranoids. Among his hires was Chris Rohlf, a respected researcher, who is head of penetration testing at the company now.

Before he joined Yahoo, Stamos spent more than a decade as a security consultant and executive at influential firms such as @stake and iSEC Partners.

“I had a wonderful time at Yahoo and learned that the Yahoo Paranoids truly live up to their legend. Their commitment, brilliance, drive and pioneering spirit made it a pleasure to roll up our sleeves and get to work,” Stamos said in his Facebook announcement.

Image from Flickr photos of Dave Maass.

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