How One McAfee Advanced Threat Researcher is Giving Back During COVID-19

There is great need all around us. During COVID-19 and this time of social distancing, many people are considering ways they can give back and do their part.

When Thomas, a McAfee Advanced Threat Researcher in France, learned there is a global shortage of masks, he stepped into action.

For the past few weeks, Thomas has been printing shields and masks for hospitals, doctors and others who need them. Thomas is dedicating hours to this initiative, and in sharing his journey, has spurred on others at McAfee to follow in his footsteps. We asked Thomas a few questions to gain his insight on how he’s giving back and more about his role at McAfee.

What does it mean to be in the Advanced Threat Research (ATR) team? Tell us more about your role at McAfee.

“I have been working for McAfee for almost five years now. My first role involved working with customers around the world to help them strengthen their cybersecurity postures during major outbreaks. Then, the opportunity came to join the ATR team to work more closely on our technology and threat research.

Now, I am a security researcher focusing on threat research, uncovering cyberattack campaigns and working on new detection mechanisms and analysis methods. We used to travel around the world to present our research at major conferences and work with law enforcement and governments. Our team includes malware, cyberattack and vulnerability research.

We have a great culture and an awesome team mindset which has been reinforced by our leaders. My teammates are some of the most brilliant people I’ve worked with during my career, and I’m so proud to work with them.”

How did you get the idea to start printing masks and shields?

“I’ve been using 3D printing for almost two years now and it has changed my life. When I break something, I can now print it in 3D. When I think of a project, I can prototype it before investing more money in research.

When COVID-19 hit France, there was news that doctors and healthcare workers were fighting for more protection. I wanted to help, so I started to think about what I could contribute. When I saw the global shortage of masks, I thought it might be a good idea to print one in 3D and distribute it in my local community. I started searching the internet to find out if anyone already had the idea and found many initiatives and prototypes around the world.

At the time, the need was not yet critical, so I decided to print masks and shields to test with local doctors. I began to discuss the idea with people who might need them, and they were all very interested. Soon enough, we decided to create a local group of makers to support the community. At the same time, many other groups began to distribute masks and shields all over France.”

Where are you sending the personal protective equipment (PPE) and do you know what impact it is having?

“Masks and shields are distributed to everyone who needs one. Doctors and nurses are prioritized because they are confronted with COVID-19 every day. We also deliver to workers in need, such as grocers, delivery workers and more. 3D printing a shield is easy but fighting an illness each day is more complicated—these people are the real heroes.

At the time of writing this, we have delivered almost 300 shields to our community and we are receiving more requests each day. Today in France, more than a thousand shields are currently distributed every week by numerous local groups of makers.”

How has McAfee supported you as you look to give back at this time?

“My leadership team and teammates at McAfee encourage this kind of initiative and I am very grateful to them. Outside of my team, I’ve received positive messages from McAfee colleagues around the world with many interested in learning more and asking how they can help—this is so encouraging.

McAfee supports volunteering efforts globally, and I always feel so supported by my managers as well. I am currently volunteering in my spare time and my wife is helping with deliveries and orders. Many other makers in my community have also stepped in. I start the 3D printer every morning, and by the end of the day, I have 10 more shields to distribute. I assemble and deliver the masks and shields during lunch and on the weekends.”

Can you share your top recommendations for those looking to give back and get involved?

“There are many initiatives you can support during times of need and the pandemic we are currently facing. Check with your local community to see how you can help. You don’t need any special skills—it’s relatively easy to give back. For example, your neighbor might just need help with groceries. I used to speak at schools to raise cybersecurity awareness, share about new technologies and to give free workshops. You can also consider ways to help others virtually. Volunteering may take a little time and resources, but helping other people is very rewarding.”

Thomas recently received an Open Badge for his contribution against COVID-19, which provides a symbol of achievement and is packed with verifiable information that can be shared across the web. His way of giving back has inspired other McAfee team members. The McAfee ATR team has recently joined the initiative and is currently using 3D printing to help their local communities too.

If you want to work for a company that will support your efforts to give back and will provide a fulfilling career like Thomas’, explore careers at McAfee.

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