The Watcher’s on the Wall

Technology has come such a long way and is a prominent part in everyone’s daily life. From using personal phones to swiping debit cards. Which is why cyber security being more important than ever. Hack’s seem to occur every day attacking millions of people world wide, some don’t even know when they are hacked.

At the moment Cisco’s OpenDNS is the highest functioning, most successful cyber security product out there in the market for individual people and large corporate businesses. Zafar Essa, Global Support Head for OpenDNS, is an expert on the subject of cyber security and has worked in the tech industry for 16 years.


Zafar Essa

Essa grew up in Texas and attended Texas Technical Institute majoring in Computer Science. During University he focused mainly on his studies as well as having a few jobs at different places throughout his four-year education. He got into the business by starting out as a support engineer. Working as a support engineer for 6 years. Until he was offered a job at Iron Port. Iron Port is also a cyber security company however, this company focuses on email security while OpenDNS focuses on web browser security. Coincidentally both Iron Port and OpenDNS have been acquired by Cisco Systems. Iron Port in 2007 and OpenDNS in 2015.

“Yeah that is pretty funny, two different companies that I have worked for both have been acquired by the same corporation. Oh well, I guess that’s life” Essa said “Sometimes I think that they are following me but then again I may just be paranoid.”

Throughout the interview Essa was light hearted and showed willingness to tell his story. He has built his way to the top of his field in an important industry. Cyber Security is one of the most pivotal parts of how we will live life in the future. Everyone will need some form of security as the rise of hackers continues. A large part of OpenDNS’s income is customer support. The company uses a subscription based type of payment. Unlike physical goods where it is a one-time purchase, renewing subscriptions is a large part of maintaining and increasing profits. Customer support is a large part of that. Because if people don’t like using and or working with a company they will not continue to use that product. Essa has comprised a team of customer support engineers once for IronPort and a second time at OpenDNS.

“I think it’s the environment these start-up tech companies have built that leads to success” Essa said referring to where he has worked “I have worked at two start-ups, starting with only a few people and ending up with hundreds of employees. Everyone is relaxed when they should be and works very hard when it’s time”

Right now there are several forms of everyday cyber attacks. According to John Malgeri from Kennesaw State University in his paper “Cyber Security: A national effort to Improve”[1], there are several forms of hacks. Spam, spyware and phishing are the most popular forms of hacking individuals. Essentially these types of attacks are click bait, if you go to a bad page or are sent a bad link in your email and you clock on it, they got you. However, there are more attacks not just in these forms but they are now blended together.

One of the biggest issues with cyber security is that not everyone knows how to setup it up or understands how it works. Essa and his team are the ones helping their customers, setup and use the protection software. This is why his team is so important to the business because they are the ones helping the customers who aren’t tech. savy.

“I do think that CS is a necessary part of this organization, it may not be the most glamorous job but my team and I considered ourselves the watchers on the wall” Essa said.

Essa has a very optimistic outlook and a job that many disregard as an important part of a well oiled company. It’s true, customer success was a pivotal part of both companies he has worked for. Being able to have customers come back and renew their subscription due to a great product and even better support is something that.

“We are just apart of the process really, I love my job and the people who I work with. Coming in everyday and working with friends is big reason why I love working for tech start-ups”-Essa


(1) Malgeri, John.(September, 2009) “Cyber Security: National Effort to Improve”. Kennesaw State University.


One thought on “The Watcher’s on the Wall

  1. Matt,

    I really enjoyed reading your story about cyber security. The progression of technology use has increased the risk involved as well. In a time where so many things are being done online, anyone’s information is vulnerable to the world. I liked Zafar’s comments and take on the situation as well. It is clear he is an expert in the field and even though he knows it’s not the most appealing job, he knows how necessary it is.

    Thanks for the great piece


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