WCSTL Speaker Interview: Paul Gilzow

Paul Gilzow will be speaking on Access Denied: Keeping Yourself off an Attacker’s Radar. Paul is from Columbia, Missouri. He’s a Programmer/Analyst-Principal at University of Missouri.

Here’s Paul’s interview:

NILE FLORES: What was it about WordPress that got you to start using it?

PAUL GILZOW: Back in 2008, we had some custom functionality that had been built into our campus CMS (Hannon Hill Cascade). We discovered this plugin was causing degradation issues with the system. The vendor who wrote the custom plugin wanted a significant amount of money to fix it. I proposed I could built out similar functionality using WordPress as a temporary solution until a long-term solution could be identified. 2 months later we switched to the site over to WordPress and, with only a few minor corrections, it has been running consistently for the last nine years. WordPress’ modularity, and speed at which I could build out functionality was definitely what drew me to it as a potential solution. The massive, assistive community is what kept me coming back.

NILE FLORES: What motivates you to give back to WordPress and its community?

PAUL GILZOW: Primarily, it’s given so much to me I feel an obligation to give back. As a security evangelist, I want to see everyone’s site as secure as possible. And given WordPress’ market share, it’s crucial we secure as many as we can. The best way to do that is through awareness and education. I love teaching, I love WordPress and I love web app security. What better way to combine all three than speaking at WordCamp?!

NILE FLORES: How many WordCamps have you been to, and what was your best 1 or 2 experiences that you had when attending WordCamp?

PAUL GILZOW: Two: WPCampus 2016 and WordCamp US 2016. I can’t pinpoint 1 or 2 specific experiences, but the overall experiences of learning things, things you had never even thought of, that are possible with WordPress, and all the incredible people you meet who are doing some amazing things. I met a lot of extraordinary people at both camps who I still communicate with regularly.

NILE FLORES: What is your number 1 tip for WordPress users?

PAUL GILZOW: Just one? If you aren’t using it (theme/plugin), delete it, don’t just deactivate it. For the ones you’re using, keep them updated religiously.

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite feature in WordPress?

PAUL GILZOW: The auto-update feature.

NILE FLORES: What are your 3 most favorite WordPress plugins?

PAUL GILZOW: My own? 😀 I can’t say I have three favorites. I try to keep plugin usage to a bare minimum. I will say for sites I build, Advanced Custom Fields has been an incredible time saver. Other than that, any of the major security plugins: Sucuri, iThemes, WordFence, etc.

NILE FLORES: What is your favorite WordPress theme?

PAUL GILZOW: The only WordPress site I’ve ever built that used a pre-created theme is my own (gilzow.com), which uses whatever is the current default theme (i.e. twentyseventeen). All the others have been custom, bespoke themes my team built.

If you’d like to meet Paul or hear his talk, you’ll need to buy a ticket for WordCamp St. Louis, on March 18th!