Shawn Abelson

Shawn Abelson, CPP

Director of Operations at Pine Risk Management

From terrorist attacks in Israel to earthquakes in Haiti, Shawn started his career by responding to emergencies and has since made his name in the business by preventing them. Over the last 15 years, Shawn has been an EMT, a penetration tester, a criminal investigator, a security director, a COO, and a consultant. He is a strong believer in the scientific method, research, data, and other boring-sounding things that have made our world immeasurably safer and healthier. Shawn is a risk nerd who hates synergy, celery, corporate jargon, and writing bios.  

Shawn teaches that diversity in thinking, perspective, and experience improves security outcomes by leading to better decisions, more accurate decision makers, and more effective and creative solutions. As a red teamer, Shawn has espoused these evidence-based concepts consistently throughout his career as a security leader, and in academia where he teaches  graduate students at the University of Minnesota. With a background in risk management and security leadership, he has applied these concepts across several industries including banking, big tech, law enforcement, and consulting.

Shawn is convinced that the security industry can be simpler, evidence-based, fair, and effective all at the same time. He weaves together stories of breaking into buildings with experiments, lessons learned the hard way, and industry data to build a future where security professionals are revered as doctors of business: safeguarding health, building strong corporate immune systems, and responding to risks and incidents with effective, empirically-based treatments. He gathers stories and case studies to enable business leaders to learn from others’ mistakes, leverage opportunities, and amplify successful strategies. 

In the security field, the experimental bedrock that underpins red teaming is as close as one can get to conducting real-world data-gathering. To this end, Shawn was asked to develop Meta’s (then Facebook) first physical red team to assess security functions around offices, data centers, fiber optic cables, executive protection, event security, crisis management, and more. After spending over a decade red teaming as a consultant and in-house red team leader, he is widely regarded as a go-to source on conducting, developing, and improving red teams. Shawn has had his share of red teams involving foot chases, being on the wrong side of weapons, and police helicopters – and is now dedicated to helping conduct the safest and most effective assessments while de-risking clients and red teams alike. Shawn likes breaking the rules and conducting security experiments to share findings and data with clients, peers, and the industry alike to ensure no one has to learn the preventable lessons the hard way.

Red Teaming as an ESRM Catalyst: Preparing for Unpredictable Threats
Tuesday, September 24 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Stress Testing Security: Red Teaming Stories from the Field to the Boardroom
Tuesday, September 24 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)