Recorded Future CEO on cybersecurity firm’s journalistic aim

May 29, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: May 30, 2022, 6:01 am

This image provided by Leah Ramuglia Photography shows Christopher Ahlberg. The cybersecurity firm Recorded Future boasts some 1,400 clients and enjoys considerable respect. But the threat-intelligence business wasn't enough for CEO Christopher Ahlberg. Two years ago, he launched an online news service called The Record. Following the model set by Bloomberg, Ahlberg says “We want all the data, all the analytics, all the research, all the news in one place." Ahlberg spoke recently with The Associated Press about the site’s genesis and plans. (Leah Ramuglia Photography via AP)

(Leah Ramuglia Photography via AP)

SOMERVILLE, Massachusetts (AP) — The cybersecurity firm Recorded Future boasts some 1,400 clients and enjoys considerable respect. But the threat-intelligence business wasn’t enough for CEO Christopher Ahlberg. Two years ago, he created an online cybersecurity news service called The Record.

The Associated Press spoke with the 53-year-old Swede about the site’s genesis and plans. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Q: What made you decide to launch The Record?

A: Michael Bloomberg’s book “Bloomberg by Bloomberg.” I must have read it five times. We want to build a Bloomberg terminal for cybersecurity. We want all the data, all the analytics, all the research, all the news in one place. So a threat intel person, a government analyst, a security generalist can have the best intel at their fingertips.

(The Bloomberg news agency grew out of what was initially a financial data supplier delivered on proprietary terminals).

Q: What information gap did you feel needed to be filled?

A: Most outlets that write about cyber are very IT-focused. We’d like to bring it closer to where decision-makers are, where policy is made. The ransomware scourge and now the war in Ukraine have boosted demand. We publish straight to our website – without ads or a paywall. We also publish into our own service for paying customers, where the stories are cross-correlate-able with our research and raw security data.

Q: Your journalists have worked at outlets including The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio. You grew with funding from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital arm, and Google, and you work with the national security community. Can readers trust The Record to be editorially independent?

A: The Record is a separate unit. The editor, Adam Janofsky, has never asked me about a story and I have never told him what to write. He’d leave if I did. I think we’ve hired people with integrity. They write about our competitors, just as our competitors routinely write about Recorded Future research – sometimes getting exclusives. I don’t think anyone can take a story we’ve done and be able to say “That serves U.S. interests,” or “That serves British interests.”

Q: I have seen complaints on social media about verbatim interviews The Record has done with cybercriminals — who can make outrageous claims — lacking in caveats and context.

A: I think you can argue that we gain intelligence with such interviews, and when you’re new you have to try to do things a little bit differently. Journalists interview terrorists, too. I understand there can be risks. But these people are not the easiest to get to. And we know these interviews are being read by the right people.

Q: How many journalists does The Record employ and do you plan to grow? Will there be a video component?

A: There are six or seven, depending how you count. Adam and I agree we would like to have better international coverage. (Former NPR journalist) Dina Temple-Raston runs a podcast. As for video, there’s no rush. You don’t want to do too many things at once.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Recorded Future CEO on cybersecurity firm’s journalistic aim