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Jesse Pollak Talks About Securing WordPress

Updated on March 4, 2020

4 Min Read

There are very few people who think big about the securing the online world. Jesse is one of them who thinks beyond traditional security methods. He came up with a unique application that transformed the current methods for traditional two-factor authentication. His idea allows people to log into websites without requiring passwords. Clef is an app that supplies cryptographic logins for every website that integrates the product. Using the Clef, you can authenticate credentials from mobile phones without any passwords or tokens.

Back in 2012, He was one of the 31 “hackNY” fellows chosen from all over the world. After 4 months, he joined “BuzzFeed” as internee and worked on “Super Share” button, that used popular internet giants API’s to enable one click sharing for all social networks. He is currently the co-founder and Chief Product Officer at “Clef”.

In his interview with Cloudways, Jesse Pollak shared about his experience of working on his online security company, and how it is helping resolve the issues with WordPress Security.

Jesse Pollak Interview

Cloudways: Hey Jesse, tell our readers a bit about yourself. Everyone starts his career inspired by someone. Who were your mentors ?

Jesse: I didn’t really have any mentors when I was starting out my career. Early on, I spent pretty much all my time just trying to build cool things and then one of them, Clef, turned into a company.

Cloudways: What were the projects you were working on before starting Clef ?

Jesse: The biggest thing that I worked on was a ridesharing application for college campuses. It got a lot of traction where I went to school, but I never decided to turn it into a business because we started building Clef around the same time. Taking on passwords felt like a more challenging, fun problem to tackle.

Cloudways: Two factor authentication is very popular nowadays, why is it so ? Is this the best method to secure credentials ?

Jesse: With all the breaches, I think everyone is starting to realize just how broken passwords are, from a security perspective. Two-factor authentication is the best way to keep accounts secure and Clef is the best two-factor authentication on the market, for security, usability, and mass market appeal.

Cloudways: Clef is very different from other products. What were the reasons and how did you come up with this unique idea ?

Jesse: We looked at the password problem and saw that it wasn’t just a security issue. Rather, the problem with passwords is one of both security AND usability. The only security that matters is the security you use, so solutions like SMS-based two-factor that only solve the security side of things don’t really help everyday users, because they are too complex to understand and use for a regular person. With Clef, we’re building tools that make people’s lives easier and keep them safe.

Cloudways: Whenever there is a security vulnerability on any platform, that platform comes under heavy criticism. How do you promote Clef security plugin in the communities?

Jesse: We generally promote Clef in two ways: through partnerships and through direct to consumer marketing. For partnerships, we mostly work with established businesses in the communities we work with (like hosts) that understand all the benefits of Clef and can help us communicate those benefits to their customers. For consumer marketing, we like to emphasize all the ways Clef makes your life easier.

Cloudways: Other than security, what were the difficulties you faced during the development of Clef ?

Jesse: There are so many challenges in building a company: security, sales, engineering; the list keeps on going.

Cloudways: From what kind of attacks does Clef promise security and how ?

Jesse: We protect from any kind of attack that involves a password: botnet brute force attacks, social engineering, forgotten password reset attacks, and more.

Cloudways: In WordPress forums we see a lot of security related questions. What do you have to say when someone tells you that WordPress is insecure? How does Clef help improve security on WordPress?

Jesse: I believe that WordPress is an extremely secure platform, especially with all of the work that’s been done in the last couple years around automatic upgrades. That said, it’s also the most used, and therefore, most attacked platform, which means that inevitably people have issues. At Clef, we believe that the best way to keep people safe is to make secure practices the default, rather than something people have to opt-in to or learn about. That is where Clef comes into play. With Clef, customers no longer have to worry about brute force attacks or any of the other password related ways hackers get into sites.

Cloudways: How has Clef changed the aftermath of forgotten passwords ?

Jesse: With Clef, forgotten passwords are a thing of the past. There are no passwords in our system, so there’s nothing to forget!

Cloudways: Clef has received a very welcoming response from the global WordPress Community. How well is the response from other communities like Magento, Drupal, Joomla etc. ?

Jesse: Great — we have plugins for all those platforms and people love Clef, which has inspired us to keep improving our core offering.

Cloudways: Have you attended any WordCamp ? What do you think, how is a WordCamp beneficial for the WordPress community ?

Jesse: Yes, I’ve been to a bunch of them. I think WordCamps are terrific — they help us build community, which I feel are the fabric of WordPress.

Cloudways: Everyone wants to be relaxed, what are your interests other than work ?

Jesse: I really enjoy biking and cooking.

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Cloudways: Throughout your career, who were your best buddies to hang out with ?

Jesse: I’m lucky to have two amazing co-founders: Mark Hudnall and B Byrne.

Workstation of Jesse Pollak

Workplace of Jesse Pollak


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Mustaasam Saleem

Mustaasam is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways. Where he actively works and loves sharing his knowledge with the WordPress Community. When he is not working, you can find him playing squash with his friends, or defending in Football, and listening to music.


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