Matt Honea
Head of Security | US

Providing a secure platform and ecosystem to deliver quality news

For many years, Matt Honea traveled globally, serving as a security specialist for the US Department of State. He is now an industry speaker and author in cybersecurity and cyber risk and a Silicon Valley Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree. Matt joined SmartNews in September 2021 as the first Head of Security at SmartNews.

How did you discover SmartNews?

I first encountered SmartNews when one of my former coworkers joined in 2020. We met and discussed what it’s like to work at a Japanese startup. One thing led to another, and I was talking with SmartNews a few months later.

What interested you about the company?

Media is such a powerful communication channel for the world. It can be used for both good and bad. Given that we’re seeing digital media expand further and further, I felt very passionate about being a part of something to deliver diverse and quality content to the people.

Was there anything during your interview process to help you decide to join SmartNews?

In short, it was the people. I spoke with probably eight or nine people, including our co-founders Ken Suzuki and Kaisei Hamamoto, as well as our Group Head of Platform Backend, Marc Brandenburg. The thoroughness, attention to detail, and startup-feel were something I really enjoyed. I have worked at both large and small companies, and it felt like SmartNews was both at the same time.

What have you been working on since joining SmartNews?

I was hired as SmartNews’ first Head of Security, and I’m responsible for ensuring that we have a secure environment that meets international standards to serve our users, partners, and customers. Since I joined SmartNews, my goals have been to grow our team and build our security program.

Matt Honea Employee Interview

What impact does your division have on the organization?

Security is a critical function of any business. In order for us to deliver quality news and advertisements, we need to have a secure platform and a secure ecosystem.

At SmartNews, we want to ensure that our users have a secure news application with the right protections. My division oversees product security, cloud security, data security, partner security, and a handful of other corporate risk and security areas. In that sense, my role as the head of this division is to ensure that we can operate, have resilience, and have procedures in place to continue doing business regardless of any threats or security issues we might face.

What goals do you have regarding how you lead your team?

I want us to have a well-established roadmap of where we’re at today, where we want to go, and what it’s going to take to get there. I’ve got fifteen large ticket items of areas of security we can improve. We’re trying to enhance our security measures from the ground up so that we have a solid foundation we can build on.

How would you describe your interactions with other divisions at SmartNews?

Working in security gives me a great opportunity to collaborate across many other divisions. Every department has some security component, and we engage on various levels to ensure we are making the right decisions. Communication at SmartNews can be difficult for many at first, given the cultural differences, various time zones, and use of translators, but it ends up working out well. I think one of the most rewarding parts of my job is working with a diverse set of really smart colleagues from all over the globe. I feel like I’m always learning something new every day.

Matt Honea Employee Interview

Now that you’ve worked here for a year, what kind of person do you think would do well working at SmartNews? 

SmartNews requires a customer-focused mindset and the ability to work as part of a global team. If I had to summarize, I would say the key trait to being successful here is flexibility.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to join your team?

Having patience, being humble, and being respectful are all key qualities that are really important at SmartNews. 

What excites you the most about the future of SmartNews?

The most significant part of SmartNews that I find really helpful is the rapid feature development, deployment, and testing. It really shows that we’re willing to do research or make mistakes, but we’re ultimately willing to kind of go the extra mile to ensure that our users have a great experience.


Book Recommendation

Practical approaches to modern cybersecurity challenges

In Cyber Defense Matrix, Sounil presents a really practical approach to navigating modern cybersecurity challenges. Anyone looking to learn more about the big picture of security technology and risk should check it out.

Sounil Yu

Independently published on January 20, 2022

The contents in this article are as of October 13, 2022.