Cybersecurity is top of mind for corporations around the world. The quantity of recent data breaches and the dollar loss associated with some of them indicates either an underinvestment in cybersecurity or a failure to properly invest in people, security training or technology. While breaches are very costly to the companies concerned, they also represent major consequences for individual privacy and a business’s short-term and long-term viability.
With this as a backdrop, I spoke with Curtis Hutcheson, VP and GM, Dell Security, at Dell Peak Performance. During the conversation, he shared his views and insight about enterprise risk management and how an integrated cybersecurity fabric could be used to better protect a company’s information and reputation.
Kevin: Hello Curtis. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed today. To start off, could you please tell me your role at Dell?
Curtis: Sure, Kevin. Happy to speak with you today. I manage the Dell Security business unit, which encompasses everything from engineering to sales.
Kevin: With all the things that are changing in cybersecurity, you certainly need pretty broad shoulders to carry all that responsibility. From your viewpoint, what are the most important trends?
Curtis: The impact of data breaches is only getting larger. People have more information stored about themselves and about their organization outside of the organization itself. People are pushing more and more information online and the risk of having a breach is just going up. This is actually very logical because security was an afterthought for most organizations five years ago. Now, however, it’s the forefront of conversations at the board of directors level. One of the toughest conversations board members now have revolves around the adequacy of data protection. Data about customers, employees and the business itself.
Kevin: The whole idea of security encompasses so many facets. Technology cannot prevent an authorized person from stealing classified data. Physical security is also an important element and at this event, cybersecurity is the central topic. Among all these security areas, what is the number one challenge faced by your customers today?
Curtis: I’ve always viewed technology as an enabler for what the business needs to do. I would also argue that simple technologies available to businesses today can help prevent many security breach activities. Things like corporate key encryption can make data unusable if it leaves the corporate network or storage facilities. This remains true even if the data leaves the company through the use of a thumb drive or a network gateway. The only way to defeat this relatively simple control mechanism would be through the theft of the corporate keys themselves. Controls like this are mainstream now but were unheard of just a few years ago. Other protections like Dell privileged account management removes the need to give employees permanent access to key systems. There is no longer a need to give super admin access. Administrative privileges can now be reserved, limited, recorded and temporary.
Kevin: Since all of these things are already part of Dell’s data security protection portfolio, what are you focused on for the next 12 months? What is the number one goal for your business unit moving forward?
Curtis: We will continue evolving our products in a way that meets the threats our customers see every day. We will also continue to raise our investment in the application of world-class engineering talents to these challenges. In addition, Dell will partner with leading cybersecurity pure plays in order to deliver unique solutions that address the ever changing security threats. This constantly changing landscape also creates a lot of excitement. The more we can leverage that entire landscape to bring customers a security platform, the more we can change their world and enhance their ability to protect the business and leverage technology to grow and enable that business.
Kevin: During the Dell Peak Performance keynote, you said that enterprises have suffered more than $600B in cybersecurity losses this year against just a $200B investment to protect against these losses. What should senior decision makers and IT professionals learn from this statistic?
Curtis: This shows a massive value gap between protecting against cybersecurity risks and the value lost in a cybersecurity breach. This also indicates that decision makers either don’t believe that the risk actually exists or they just don’t know how to control the risk. I believe that most decision makers would spend the money for protection if they believed it would control the risk. While this is a very immature space, some incredible technologies are now coming together that are capable of delivering a protection fabric instead of a bunch of security point products. In a majority of the key breaches that have happened, the affected organizations had substantial investments in security technology. Buying the right tools doesn’t necessarily protect you from a catastrophic security event. Our goal is to make sure your investments not only deliver the capability that you are looking for but also delivers an integrated cybersecurity fabric.
Kevin: This seems to argue for a focused end-to-end approach to security. Are industries taking that to heart? What insight can you provide that counters the notion of just buying security products?
Curtis: Great question Kevin. First, we use the NIST Risk Management Framework internally and when we work with customers during deployments. Ensuring that you are properly protected starts with a security assessment and identifying key risks. This methodology is used to understand what needs protection, the right ways to provide protection, the most effective means for monitoring the protection process and the most appropriate remedies should protection fail.
Second, key applications and data need to be evaluated, not only from the viewpoint of the corporate core, but also from the viewpoint of an edge user. In properly employing a security framework, companies need to address user management and user security. Ultimately, it also requires an awareness and enforcement layer coupled with a set of perimeter controls. This forms the security platform I mentioned earlier. Customers can choose to deploy this by using different security vendors or they can go with a platform vendor like Dell. We believe platform vendors will pull away from the pack due to the assurances we will be able to deliver.
Kevin: This sounds like a hybrid IT approach. How should security professionals implement end-to-end security across a hybrid environment?
Curtis: Customers are trying to do this anyway by self-integrating separate pieces on their own. Banks and other high-security organizations have been dealing with specific and known risks for a long time. Other industries like retail are just now looking at security from a holistic aspect. The big takeaway for customers is that you no longer need to do this alone. You can now implement a security framework with an engineered security platform. You should also evaluate each layer of the platform and make sure that they each stand independently as world-class. This is where Dell provides real value. We deliver an excellent firewall solution and world-class endpoint encryption capabilities. Our application management solutions are also very good. The goal is to work with customers on a comprehensive security platform view while simultaneously providing specific solutions for their most important security pain points.
Kevin: Thank you very much for spending time with me today.
Curtis: I appreciated it, Kevin. Thanks for being here.
Kevin: My pleasure.
This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS – © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2015)
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