If you only have time for one podcast…

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about some great cyber-security podcasts. Hackable, the Cyberwire, Hacking Humans, Darknet diaries – they were all there. Well, those four were, anyway.

I have been meaning to write a follow-up piece, but, well, events…

So here is that piece. The previously-mentioned podcasts are all great, and I listen to them all regularly and would highly recommend them..

But, if I only had time for one cyber-security related podcast, great though they are, it wouldn’t be any of these – it would be Smashing Security. I’m not sure about this, but I think the “smashing” in its name comes from that uniquely British way of describing “really lovely things”, and reflects the fact that one of its two regular hosts – Graham Cluley – is a Brit. (Incidentally, I say “uniquely British” as various American friends have typically put on a vaguely Queen Elizabeth-like accent when saying the word “Smashing” as a way of mocking me for my nationality). I don’t think (although I may be wrong) that it refers to a deep desire on their part to smash security in the way that some may want to smash capitalism, plates or the world’s collection of David Hasslehoff CDs.

I listen to it because it’s genuinely informative – and comes up with stories relating to security that I haven’t seen elsewhere. And then it dedicates enough time to each that you actually feel you have a decent understanding of the issue by the end. And Graham and his co-host Carole Theriault contribute sometimes differing opinions, taking the issue and peering at it from all sides like a child with a snow-globe, leaving you with a decently rounded perspective.

I listen more because of those co-hosts. Carole is opinionated about things that most of us just ignore. For example, don’t suggest to her that it’s not worth reading privacy notices – you’ll probably find her hunting you down with a machete and pile of papers, forcing you at knife-point to read JUST SOME of the things that these companies actually PUT in them. But that’s okay – I’m pretty sure that she reads these things so that the rest of us don’t have to.

Graham, on the other hand, is often needlessly dismissive of Carole’s rants. He displays little regard for her sensitivities – or indeed any form of sensitivity. He is often heard cackling away like a human version of Muttley the dog, almost always at his own (frequently slightly smutty) musings. Yet, despite the impression he sometimes gives of just being a plant sent in with the express purpose of winding up Carole, he does actually have some really interesting things to say, and seems to really know his stuff.

I suppose you should expect that from a long-time inductee of the InfoSecurity Europe Hall of Fame and generally recognised leading expert in the field.

The truth of the matter is that it’s about the chemistry between them – and their guests. One or two seem to occasionally wonder what they’ve landed in the middle of, but the guests almost always contribute an interesting third perspective, and a welcome variety to the podcast.

Finally, their “Pick Of The Week” section of non-security-related recommendations for further listening / viewing / reading / general entertainment have frequently supplied me with something else to explore. Without them, I wouldn’t be listening to Strong Songs podcast (also really great, by the way), would probably not have come across the fascinating BBC podcast about The Missing Crypto Queen, or known to avoid the performance tracking condom (yes, apparently it does exist – or soon will.)

So, if you don’t already subscribe – give it a go. It’s all the educational value of a security podcast with the entertainment value of a sitcom-cum-soap opera. A bit like having a CISSP course run by Billy Connolly. Sort-of.