With the announcement of WordPress security expert Chris Wiegman, author of Better WP Security, joining the iThemes team, we wanted to do a quick Q&A with him to help you learn more about him. You can also visit his personal website and follow him on Twitter.
So here goes:
When did you get started in WordPress? What do you enjoy most about it? And why?
“I started with WordPress in 2007 or 2008 as a companion to a Drupal site. At the time I was working for the Aviation department at Southern Illinois University and we wanted a way to make it easy for faculty, student groups and others to have their own sites. WordPress fit the role perfectly.
When I first started using WordPress I actually didn’t care much for it. It wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I started participating in the community more that it really began to grow on me. For me it’s the community that is most important, something the competition is really lacking. Without people working together WordPress would be just another piece of software and I love both learning and contributing back to others as I can.”
Tell us more about your background and expertise in WP development and security.
“Better WP Security, and actually my security experience in general, came out of a necessity to make sure I didn’t fall victim to the same problems that were plaguing other departments and units at Southern Illinois University. Simply put my sites were not going to be on their hacked list.
What started as a necessity eventually lead to something of a passion. Anyone can make a site look nice but few seem to be willing to put in what it takes to make that nice-looking site run well and, more importantly, run securely. As most of the solutions out there are often too technical for the average user I’ve made it my mission to not only make the code more secure but to educate users and others on just what it takes to maintain security over the long-term, both on their WordPress sites and the rest of their digital properties and identities.
As part of this effort I completed my masters of science degree in Computer Science in 2011, I’ve blogged regularly on the topic, I’ve spoken at WordCamps and other conferences and, most importantly, I’ve made being an educator just as important of a role as being a developer.”
Why did you decide to join iThemes and what are you most excited about?
“This last year I realized that with 1.2 million downloads Better WP Security had grown to the point where it could no longer just be a side project and the search for how to make it a full-time role began. While I talked to a number of prospective partners it was the people and products at iThemes that really stood out, not just as some of the best people in the business (which they clearly are) but with a product line including BackupBuddy and Exchange that fit into the Better WP Security vision almost perfectly. I elected not to branch out on my own with the plugin because I wanted to be part of a team and the team at iThemes looks to be a perfect match.”
Tell us something fun about you personally.
“Some folks know this but I didn’t start out as a developer. Websites and computers in general were how I paid my way through college as a student worker. I originally earned a degree in Aviation and flew as a captain for a small airline in Hawaii and a first-officer on business jets out of Chicago, until 2007 when my flight school helped me avoid the recession with a career change. These days, when not behind a computer I spend as much time as possible exploring historical locations here in Central Texas and elsewhere as well as all the time I can on the water. Of course when the weather is bad I need another hobby so for that my wife and I tour local breweries and bars in search of the perfect brew.”
Free Webinar: Introduction to WordPress Security
Be sure to join Chris for his first WordPress security webinar at iThemes titled “Introduction to WordPress Security” on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. (CST).