Bill Conner

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Bill (F. William) Conner
Bill Conner close-up in D Magazine CEO supplemental.jpg
Alma mater

Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Princeton University

F. William "Bill" Conner is an American business executive.

Education and personal life[edit]

Conner was born and reared in West Helena, Arkansas. In his early years, he displayed "an interest in energy conversion".[1]

In 1981, he received his bachelor's degree from Princeton University in mechanical engineering and later earned an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1987. Currently, he lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife.


From 1981 to 1992, Conner held positions at AT&T including senior engineer, operations manager and strategic planner.[2]

Conner held executive positions at Nortel Networks from 1992 to 2001. As the President of Enterprise Data Networks for Nortel, he managed its $9.1 billion (US) acquisition of Bay Networks. He also served as the first Chief Marketing Officer of Nortel, launching the global marketing campaigns "Come Together" and "What Do You Want the Internet to Be?"[3]

Conner speaking on global cybersecurity before the INTERPOL 79th General Assembly in Doha, Qatar, November 2010.


From 2001 to 2013, Conner was the Chief Executive Officer and President of Entrust, a private software company that specializes in identity-based security. Conner was responsible for the creation and delivery of identity-based security software and services.[4] Entrust grew to profitability (albeit short due to its early focus on growth) and reached annual sales of well over $100m by the time of arrival of Connor to the firm in 2001. Connor shortly thereafter launched a restructuring effort and began to trim workforce annually in an effort to return the company to profitability. He launched a new business model focusing on product portfolios targeted to key verticals and geographies.[5]

Conner engineered the company's acquisition by private equity firm Thoma Bravo in 2009,[6] and transitioned Entrust into a private firm. In December 2013, it was announced that Datacard Group had entered into an agreement to purchase Entrust for a reported $500 Million. Conner took on a consultant role during the transition.[7]

Silent Circle[edit]

On January 5, 2015, Silent Circle announced that its Board of Directors appointed Conner as Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors effective immediately.[8] As CEO of Silent Circle, Conner also joined the Board of Directors of Blackphone.[9]

On June 17, 2016, Silent Circle blogged that Conner had resigned as CEO and would remain only as an "advisor," implying he had also resigned his seat on the Board.[10]


Formerly a division of Dell Software Inc., SonicWall was spun off and acquired by Francisco Partners and Elliott Management in June 2016.[11] On Nov. 1, 2016, SonicWall announced that it had commenced standalone operations, and named Conner its President and CEO.[12]

SonicWall states it is the North American market share leader in internet security appliances among small and medium-sized enterprises. In August 2016, SonicWall launched its Capture Advanced Threat Prevention Service, and has analyzed more than 4 million suspicious files for its clients as of Nov. 1, 2016. The cloud-based service uses multiple engines to help prevent attacks, and automates remediation techniques.[13]

Conner stated publicly that SonicWall will continue its relationship with Dell, as a reseller partner, and will continue its service areas focused on network security, secure mobile access, email security and encryption, and management and reporting. In a public statement to employees, Conner stated he wants to focus SonicWall on four areas of growth:

  • Next-generation firewall features
  • The user interface, user experience and application program interface of its cloud-based globalization management system (GMS)
  • The SonicOS software operating system and hardware platforms
  • Growing core market segments[14]

Comodo CA[edit]

In October 2017, Francisco Partners acquired Comodo Certification Authority (Comodo CA) and named Bill Conner Chairman of the Board. This marks a transition in ownership from the Comodo organization as Comodo CA, an industry leader in SSL security with more than 200,000 customers across 150 countries, focuses on the significant market opportunity associated with SSL certificates and the massive growth in online and IoT traffic.

Cybersecurity and infrastructure global trends[edit]

Conner has been active in various public-private partnerships on cybersecurity, cybertheft and infrastructure security. He helped unveil the INTERPOL Global Smart eID Card and addressed the United Nations on global challenges in cybercrime in June 2010 [15] He co-chaired the Corporate Governance Task Force of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity Partnership [16] He has been a member of the Business Software Alliance [17] and the Cyber Security Industry Alliance(now a branch of TechAmerica technology trade association) [18] He created and co-chaired the Information Security Governance Task Force of the Business Software Alliance [19] He is a member of the Enterprise Software Roundtable [20]

In February 2012, Conner took part in a United States House of Representatives committee on Energy and Commerce hearing to discuss cybersecurity threats facing the US and the role of public-private partnerships play in defense.[21] Conner has recently spent time discussing the effects of spear phishing schemes on weak authentication, notably the rash of attacks on media outlets, and the risks of insider threats.[22][23][24]

In 2017, Conner became a Forbes Community Voice Contributor, as a member of the Forbes Technology Council.[25] His articles have featured topics such as cybersecurity and policy trends,[26] cyber threat intelligence,[27] and how human predictability factors in cyberattacks.[28] He has also penned articles and contributed to reports on email-borne cyberattacks[29] and ransomware.[30]

In February 2018, Former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and Bill Conner collaborated on an opinion article written for The Hill. In it, they detail some of the recent actions taken by the U.S. Congress and the SEC regarding cyber accountability and transparency.[31]


  • "How machine learning allowed one company to detect Meltdown and Spectre before Intel went public," TechRepublic, Jason Hiner (author) Apr. 20, 2018 [32]
  • "The Value of Enterprise Privacy," The Guardian, Jul. 23, 2015 [33]
  • "Securing digital Identities: Separating Fact From Fiction in Mobile Security," Texas CEO Magazine, March 2013 [34]
  • "Dallas company arms Interpol in cyber wars, " Dallas Morning News, Cheryl Hall (author) Nov. 2, 2011 [35]
  • "Viewpoint: U.K. Breach a Precautionary Tale for U.S.," American Banker, December 2007 [36]
  • "Cybersecurity: Business Has to Enlist in This War" (co-author), guest opinion column, New York Times, Nov. 17, 2003 [37]
  • "Vulnerability on the Cyber Front," co-author with Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark, Washington Times, Aug. 19, 2002 [38]


  • Bill Conner, President and CEO of SonicWall, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Commodo CA, named by Info Security Product Guide as 2018 CEO of the Year (500-2,499 Employees): Gold Winner.[39]
  • CEO World Awards 2018 – CEO of the Year (500-2,499 Employees): Silver Winner. Bill Conner honored for driving SonicWall to surpass financial objectives for six consecutive quarters since becoming independent from Dell.[40]
  • Listed by CRN as One of the Most Influential Executives of 2018 (cited as #21) [41]
  • 2017 SC Media 2017 Reboot Leadership Award to Bill Conner
  • One of the 25 Most Influential Executives Of 2017 according to CRN[42]
  • CRN Names Bill Conner 2017 Top Midmarket Vendor Executive[43]
  • 2015 Global New Product Innovation Award to Silent Circle: Frost & Sullivan 2015: Global award given by Frost & Sullivan based on customer impact and new product attributes.[44]
  • Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 Fast Company: Silent Circle: Consumer Electronics focused review of Global companies leading in technology and security.
  • Best of Mobile World Congress 2015: 2015: For Silent Circle BlackPhone 2: Top smartphone or tablet recognition from national magazine on technology products.[45]
  • 2014 ICON Technology of the Year Award: for BlackPhone, Silent Circle and Geeksphone: ICON Magazine [46]
  • National Youth Science Camp Alumnus of the Year: National Youth Science Camp (NYSC) July 2013: Given to alumni who support NYSC, achieve recognition in their chosen fields and helps further science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.[47]
  • U.S. Federal 100 Award: Federal Computer Week March 2004: National award from Federal Computer Week recognizing the top 100 individuals and organizations for impact on U.S. Government technology and services.[48]
  • Tech Titans Corporate CEO of the Year: Metroplex Technology Business Council September 2003: Given by Metroplex Technology Business Council, recognizing technology leadership and raising scholarship funds for technology students.[49]
  • Telly Award 1999: National Award given to Temerlin McClain Advertising for the Nortel Come Together campaign.[50]
  • A local Memphis paper Press Scimiter, named Bill Conner as "Teenager of the Year" in 1977.[51]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Published profile of Bill Conner, referencing his career positions at AT&T
  3. ^ Overview of Nortel marketing campaign "Come Together"
  4. ^ Description of CEO duties and history at Entrust Archived November 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Published article in Sterling Hoffman newsletter, referencing Bill Conner
  6. ^ Public information from Thoma Bravo describing completion of acquisition of Entrust, referencing Bill Conner Archived July 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Quandt Family Buys Entrust in Shift From Card Swipes to Online
  8. ^ Silent Circle taps Bill Conner as CEO
  9. ^ Silent Circle Appoints Bill Conner CEO
  10. ^
  11. ^ Announcement of spin out sale of SonicWall by Dell
  12. ^ SonicWall media release announcing independent operations and leadership
  13. ^ Dell announces availability of SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Prevention Service
  14. ^ Bill Conner statement to employees of SonicWall on company's official launch of standalone operations
  15. ^ Introduction of INTERPOL Global Smart eID Card and address to United Nations on global challenges in cybercrime, June 2010
  16. ^ U.S. Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity Partnership, Corporate Governance Task Force Archived July 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ PDF of report from Information Security Governance Task Force of the BSA, co-signed by Bill Conner Archived July 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ Published article on Cyber Security Industry Alliance
  19. ^ PDF of report from Information Security Governance Task Force of the BSA, co-signed by Bill Conner Archived July 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ Information from founder of Enterprise Software Roundtable
  21. ^ Cyber Security and the Private Sector
  22. ^ [1], Bloomberg TV
  23. ^ Protecting Petroleum, Fox Business Network
  24. ^ ID security CEO: 'NYT' hackers did their homework, USA Today
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Conner, Bill. "The Value of Enterprise Privacy". The Guardian. The Guardian. 
  34. ^ Securing digital Identities: Separating Fact From Fiction in Mobile Security, Texas CEO Magazine, March 2013
  35. ^ "Dallas company arms Interpol in cyber wars, " Dallas Morning News, Cheryl Hall (author) Nov. 2, 2011
  36. ^ Viewpoint: U.K. Breach a Precautionary Tale for U.S., American Banker, December 2007
  37. ^ "Cybersecurity: Business Has to Enlist in This War" (co-author) New York Times, Nov. 17, 2003
  38. ^ "Vulnerability on the Cyber Front," co-author with Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark, Washington Times, Aug. 19, 2002
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ PDF from detailing the award
  45. ^ showcase of winning products
  46. ^ Award and details on ICON Magazine website
  47. ^ News story on awards and 50th anniversary reunion at NYSC
  48. ^ Media release announcing 2004 Federal US award winners
  49. ^ Tech Titans organization site, past winners
  50. ^ Overview of Nortel marketing campaign "Come Together"
  51. ^ DestinationCRM article