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Lifelong love of tech leads ASU alum to cybersecurity

October 20, 2015

New College grad co-founds company that protects clients' data

Editor's note: Leading up to Homecoming, we'll be running several stories a week on ASU alumni. Find more alumni stories here.

Technology is in Edward Vasko’s blood. His family had long worked in the industry, and by the time he was a toddler he was taking apart telephones.

Edward VaskoAfter Vasko graduated with a history degree from ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences in 1995, that hardwired tech interest led him to co-found Terra Verde, a cybersecurity services and solutions company in Scottsdale, Arizona.

In an age when online security is of the utmost importance, Vasko takes pride in the fact that his company “is doing everything possible to keep bad guys away from our clients’ data.”

The Glendale resident spoke with ASU Now about the “Manifest Destiny” of the technology frontier and the cold hard facts about online privacy.

Question: Why did you choose to pursue a career in technology?

Answer: I have always been involved in technology; it’s in my genes. My father’s side of the family worked in the telecommunications and technology industries for multiple generations. I started taking apart telephones between the ages of 2 and 3 years old and built my first computer at age 12. So I had always known I would likely be in the tech industry. The cybersecurity focus came about as a result of being curious about how (and why) things worked the way they do and the doggedness to find the answer.

Q: How did ASU help get you there?

A: My experience at ASU helped me understand how to think and apply wisdom to the world. I had always been curious about how and why things worked the way they did. What ASU provided me was the ability to synthesize that innate curiosity and analyze topics outside of technology.

For example, the impassioned need by the American people in the 19th century to fulfill a sense of Manifest Destiny and “civilize” the geographic frontier of our nation. What’s interesting is that those same principles of frontier discovery/expansion can be leveraged as one examines new technology frontiers.

Q: Where do you stand on the issue of file sharing vs. digital rights management?

A: I believe as long as there are content creators willing to exercise their copyright, there will be attempts at enforcing some kind of digital rights management (DRM). This problem has been around as long as we have had digital content and isn’t going away until: 1) we have a wholesale rewrite of copyright laws; 2) we have unbreakable DRM; or 3) content creators realize alternative methods of receiving support/finances from their efforts.

The open-source movement has shown, in the software space at least, that robust software can be written by a community of supporters and made available to the public for free. There are music, art and literature creators leveraging alternative methods of support for releasing digital content.

Q: Why should the public be concerned with online privacy?

A: The question is how concerned you should be about online privacy. Simply put, once you’ve placed yourself online in any way or form, you give up portions of your privacy.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring techies?

A: Always be learning. That’s the fun of being a techie — you continue expanding your knowledge so as not to become obsolete. Be willing to take a risk on yourself, your passions and dreams. Remember what Winston Churchill once said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU Now

(480) 965-9657

 
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ASU alumni: Where are they now?

October 20, 2015

From artists to cybersecurity experts to recycling ambassadors, Arizona State University produces graduates skilled in a wide variety of fields.

Leading up to Homecoming on Nov. 14, we'll be sharing a few stories each week of what ASU alumni are doing to make the world a better, more interesting place.

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Xanthia Walker recommends those interested in pursuing a career in the arts “kindly roll their eyes” at naysayers. She wants aspiring artists to continue to pursue their goals and is living proof that there are "a million ways to make a life in the arts."

Tom Leveen YA author on online bullying, writing for teens

Tom Leveen stumbled upon the young adult genre quite by accident, but it has been good to him. His eighth novel, "Hellworld," will be out in 2017, but it was the subject of his book "Random" that has led the author to speak out on the dangers of online bullying.

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ASU alumna Jessica Schreiber may have gotten a late start on recycling — she never heard of it until college — but you wouldn't know that by her profession today: overseeing recycling programs for the biggest city in the country.

Edward Vasko Lifelong love of tech leads ASU alum to cybersecurity

Technology is in Edward Vasko’s blood. His family had long worked in the industry, and by the time he was a toddler he was taking apart telephones. After he graduated from ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences in 1995, that hardwired interest led him to co-found cybersecurity company Terra Verde.

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ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration alum Pye Pye Zaw — who is now a space systems engineer at Bigelow Aerospace in Las Vegas — had the pleasure of working on projects with NASA while still an undergrad, thanks to the ASU/NASA Space Grant.

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Christina Akins fell in love with "herps" after one encounter with a snake. Years later she's studying snakes, frogs and other reptiles in the Arizona wildlife to assess how humans are affecting their way of life.

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Nadia Salbin tells small, personal stories with her camera, but the New Yorker says photography has long been a medium for viewing and understanding change.

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Margaret Dunn learned to balance success with sustainability through her time in ASU's W. P. Carey School of Business and the School of Sustainability.

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Lucky Sharma learned how to maintain a career in sustainability during her time at ASU.

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Four remarkable College of Liberal Arts and Sciences alumni will return to campus for Homecoming to share their stories of success and transformative innovations.

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Arizona State Sen. Martin Quezada says his time at ASU provided this politician a perspective for change, and for understanding how to help his community.

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Virginia Counts helps shepherd the development of some the latest medical technology, but she's just as interested in ensuring women see career paths in science.

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ASU alumna, veteran Zsuzsa Szabo aims to excite her students about the rewards of understanding the past.