Joe Bazeley: Security Expert and Cat Person Extraordinaire

by Elizabeth Jenike, IT Services

If you’ve logged into Miami University’s network lately and your information wasn’t stolen, you can probably thank Joe Bazeley.

Joe, who is the assistant vice president of security, compliance, and risk management for Miami University, is the guy with the keys to the kingdom—in terms of security, that is. He oversees all of the information on University servers and essentially makes sure it’s safe from hackers’ prying eyes and sticky fingers.

“My job is the opposite of yours,” he once told a room full of marketing and communications liaisons from across campus. “I keep the University out of the news.”

Joe Bazeley selfie with a scuba mask in the ocean

Talking to Joe is a little like scuba diving in the Mariana Trench. You go into the conversation skimming the surface—happily ignorant of the chasm opening beneath you. But the more you talk to him, the more you become aware of the deep, dark depths of information security (and lack thereof). There are so many ways for hackers to access your personal information – and Joe makes it his business to know them in order to prevent untoward events.

It’s kind of frightening. With one swipe of a finger on his smartphone, Joe can tell you whether or not you have an activity tracker, what kind of phone you have, what building you exited five minutes ago, or that you entered the dining hall at 12:53 p.m. earlier that day. In the hands of a malicious actor (for instance, a stalker), this information could be devastating. Joe works to prevent the personal and institutional information housed by the University from falling into those wrong hands.

You can read more about what Joe does – and the kinds of events he’s trying to stave off – in another of this month’s articles. But suffice to say that it’s round-the-clock work keeping all of our information safe.

Meanwhile, in the real ocean...

In his spare time, Joe loves to scuba dive (making that metaphor apt). It’s been about three years since he was in the water, but when he does go diving, it’s a great experience.

“I enjoy scuba diving,” he said. “I started diving in the Great Lakes when I lived in Chicago.”

Picture of a squid taken while scuba diving

Even scuba diving has its own culture and inside jokes, and Joe finds it fun to analyze the different kinds of people who take up the hobby.

“It’s kind of funny—you can tell where someone learned to go scuba diving when you’re in the tropics,” he said. “We were diving in St. Lucia for our honeymoon, and the water is what I would call warm bathwater—about 80 degrees, really nice. Everyone from the Midwest is diving in a bathing suit and a t-shirt, and everybody from Florida is wearing a [three millimeters thick] wetsuit, because they thought it was so cold!”

Joe’s other love in life is his cats. He and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud pet parents of three kitties: two Siamese (Willa and Simon) and one black tabby (Edgar W. King, an erstwhile stray named after the King Library, where Jennifer works and where he was found). They only recently adopted Simon from a Siamese rescue, but it looks like he might be smart and long enough to open doors (watch out!).

Simon the Siamese cat

Get Joe talking about his cats—he has a lot of great stories to tell about fat, furry felines that are well worth your time. For instance, he and his wife love cats so much that when Jennifer was giving a presentation to her librarian colleagues, she inserted photos of their pets into the slides at certain intervals. Well, to little surprise, that went over pretty well.

“Most of the comments she got about the presentation were about the cat photos!” he laughed. “And they were all positive!”

When you have a minute, ask Joe about the fat cat that ate the middle of a loaf of bread. Just the middle.

Thanks for all you do to keep the University’s information secure, Joe!