On June 12, 2019, Oxford University's Centre for Technology and Global Affairs hosted Stewart K. Bertram, who spoke on the changing role of the cyber threat intelligence (CTI) industry over the last decade. Stewart offered a detailed mosaic of the changing role of CTI providers, emphasising the blurring of the crucial distinction between IT professionals and cyber “mercenaries”. Drawing from his direct involvement with the field through the company Digital Shadows, he started the presentation by overviewing the spectrum of specialized firms providing diverse goods and services under the same umbrella term of “cybersecurity”.
The presentation’s central argument was that CTI has been gaining more political significance and becoming a critical security issue. Against this background, CTI providers, whose actual functions have not changed significantly during this period, can be potentially reimagined as cyber mercenaries in the public perception. Stewart argued that CTI work is increasingly abutting national security issues and that by implications, decisions made by CTI providers have become increasingly politicized. Through examination of an extensive range of empirical cases, Stewart encouraged the audience to think seriously about how changes in political context and perceptions may affect both CTI providers and governments over the next decade.
Stewart K. Bertram is the Director of Strategic Intelligence at Digital Shadows and responsible for the core Strategic Intelligence team at the organization. With a career in Threat Intelligence (TI) dating back to 2009 and technical intelligence dating back further to 2004, Stewart brings a significant amount of experience to any TI-related project, be it threat-led penetration testing or more thematic and research-based projects. Stewart’s Threat Intelligence research interests range from the geostrategic to the more technical aspects of cyber security. His research has been published in various books and academic peer reviewed journals.