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When I look back at my career, there’s one day that I’ll never forget: May 4, 2009. This was the day that would change everything for me, both personally and professionally. It was the day I finally met Tim Wilson, the co-founder and editor of Dark Reading. Sure, we had exchanged emails and had a few phone calls prior to that, but I’d never actually met him in person. We were both attending a Fortify Software press event in Washington, D.C., and we struck up a conversation about our kids, living in Northern Virginia and being in cybersecurity. What I didn’t know then was that this day would mark the start of a long-lasting friendship for us, the Cyber Defenders.

It’s not often that you come across someone that is completely unselfish—someone who will put everyone else first—but that was 100 percent Tim. He’d help anyone and everyone he could. That was on top of being a loving and devoted father to his two girls and building Dark Reading into the top online cyber publication. Tim loved his family, his friends and Dark Reading, and he always put every bit of energy he had into these priorities.

As Dark Reading became more and more event-focused over the years, Tim would spend countless weekends creating the best event and webinar content he could in order to help cyber practitioners to do their jobs better. When he wasn’t working, he’d spend quality time with his daughters, taking them on beach trips to Ocean City, watching cheerleading competitions or writing them long letters while they were at camp. If there was any extra time left in his day for himself, he’d spend it with his friends or watching sports, namely the Washington Football Team or the Washington Nationals. It was the little things in life that he loved the most, including laughter and long conversations with the people he loved.

Sadly, on Tuesday, November 23, 2021, we lost Tim to a very rare and aggressive cancer. It was only about eight weeks from his diagnosis to when he passed, but I’m so grateful I was one of his few close friends that spent quality time with him those last few weeks. We had great conversations at the hospital and at his home, reflecting on the last decade of our friendship, laughing about some of our best memories together. As he said, “laughter is the best medicine,” and I know my silly stories cheered him up. I also thanked him for everything he did for both me, personally and professionally, as well as for Merritt Group. I relayed so many caring messages from the cyber community to him. I ensured that Tim knew, without a doubt, how much he was loved by everyone, and that he had made such a positive impact on my life and for many others too.

Tim was truly the MVP of Cyber. He was an incredible reporter, creative storyteller, excellent presenter and moderator, successful businessman, encouraging mentor and above all, a loyal and caring friend. Tim was not only one of my best friends, but he was a good friend to everyone at Merritt Group. Not many people know this, but Tim helped build our cybersecurity practice in more ways than I can count. He helped identify top cyber PR pros to hire, and then he helped me train them at our annual security boot camps. He generously offered his time to our clients on a number of occasions at industry events – after I knew he was completely exhausted from all-day sales meetings, and he also recommended Merritt Group to so many cyber companies who needed PR and marketing help.

I was especially honored to co-present with Tim at major events like Security B-Sides Las Vegas, B-Sides D.C., RVASec, CyberMarketingCon, Merritt Group’s annual RSA Wine Down and ISSA LA. Tim was also never hesitant to share his deep knowledge of the cyber market. If you ever asked Tim for his thoughts on a cyber company, it wasn’t just a few quick thoughts, it was a full-blown competitive analysis! 

Tim taught me and many other PR pros how to think like a reporter and how to tell a story that people would actually care about. We brainstormed so many story angles together during media briefings, often together with Merritt Group’s clients. His mind was always at work, and I loved collaborating with him on anything and everything. He would also tell me when I was off-base, too, and I really believe his candid feedback made me a way better PR and marketing professional. 

What astounded me the most about Tim is that he never said no to anyone who needed his help. He always found a way to help me, my team and my friends. His heart was so big and so generous. I’ve often thought that Tim’s soft spot for PR pros stemmed from the fact that his own father was a PR practitioner for over 30 years, and that one of his first jobs was in PR too. Tim just really understood what we were up against, and no matter how busy he was, he always made time for everyone around him.

Over the years, we all saw Tim work very hard for Dark Reading to build it into the cyber media juggernaut that it is today, but he also found time to have fun and enjoy life! I’ll always remember the fun ties he wore at cyber conferences, his appreciation for a good glass of Peju wine or a relaxing beach day. Tim was a kind soul who didn’t need much to make him happy – I know he enjoyed long, meaningful conversations with those he loved, so it’s no surprise that is how he chose to spend his final days.

It goes without saying that Tim was one of the kindest, most generous and loving people on this planet. I know I’m not alone when I say I miss him every day. The whole cyber community feels this loss, but we’re also very grateful for everything he contributed. Tim made us all better human beings and better Cyber Defenders. 

Before Tim passed, he said he would send special signs to let me know he’s still here with me, in spirit of course. How fitting is it that as I started writing this blog, a song about best friends came on the radio? I know he’s up above, watching over all of us. So cheers to you, Tim, a great Cyber Defender and an even better best friend! Thank you for making this world a better, brighter and safer place for all.

To learn more about Tim Wilson’s life and legacy, please read Dark Reading’s profiles of him here and here. Thank you to Kelly Jackson Higgins and the entire Dark Reading team for these beautiful memories of Tim.

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