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Steve Gold: a Journalist and a Gentleman

Posted by on January 14, 2015.

In recent years, I’ve become less and less involved with talking to the media: I like to think that I write reasonably well, but there are people who come over much better in interviews, and I’m generally happy to leave all that to them. One journalist I always got on well with, however, was Steve Gold, and I always enjoyed our occasional interviews, and even survived when he coaxed me into taking part in the occasional panel session, and I was sad to hear of his death on the 12th January 2015.

He first became mildly notorious through his involvement in the ‘hacking’ of the Duke of Edinburgh’s mailbox in the 1980s. The conviction of Steve and of Robert Schifreen under the misapplied Forgery and Counterfeiting Act was subsequently put aside, but the affair had considerable influence on the implementation of the Computer Misuse Act (not to mention improvements in Prestel security). I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone in the security industry who seemed to think of it as a blot on Steve’s personal escutcheon, though.

Like many others in the security industry, though, I remember Steve as an amusing and knowledgeable conversationalist and commentator. As a journalist, he was outstanding. There are many people who call themselves journalists who are all too apt to recycle press releases, others who are just looking for a snappy soundbite they can use to support the political position they’ve chosen to take, or to stir up controversy and discord between companies. With Steve, you always knew that he was interested in getting to heart of an issue, though he knew the value of a sensational headline: I remember how a throwaway remark I made about Android’s potential for misuse was promoted to the headline “Android is terrifying” says ESET’s David Harley. Nevertheless, he was scrupulous about presenting the interviewee’s views accurately, in that piece as in others, and in view of events very shortly afterwards, I can’t say it was the wrong headline. Though no doubt Google would disagree.

In the same way, when you did a panel with Steve like the Infosecurity keynote session on APTs later that year, you knew it was going to be about getting the best out of everyone involved and a good overview of the issues, not an exercise in self-promotion.

Thanks, Steve. It was always a pleasure to work with you.

Several magazines have already published obituaries, including the Register and SC Magazine, and there is a memorial site here.

David Harley

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