Cyber Risk Forum Preview: Former Secretary Of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff

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In part 1 of our 2-part interview, Corporate Board Member caught up with Chertoff to talk about cyber threats and what business leaders should be focusing on in cybersecurity.


Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff will be speaking at the 2018 Cyber Risk Forum on April 16, 2018 in San Francisco. Hosted alongside RSA® Conference, Corporate Board Member and Chief Executive are presenting the 3rd annual Cyber Risk Forum to provide CEOs and board members with the opportunity to explore emerging trends, prevalent threats and strategic opportunities surrounding cybersecurity. Click here to register.

In part 1 of our 2-part interview, Corporate Board Member caught up with Chertoff to talk about cyber threats and what business leaders should be focusing on in cybersecurity. 

Q: What are the cyber threats you’re seeing right now that CEOs and board directors should be aware of that they are likely not aware of? What’s worrying you that should be worrying them?

A: Among the growing list of cybersecurity threats to corporations and citizens is the worry that nation states could be compiling dossiers of Americans for intelligence purposes. A series of major thefts of personal data — not intellectual property — over recent years could suggest that a nation state is trying to build a database of all Americans. It’s one of the reasons that the scale of what people can do now with modern analytics allows them to make use of the kind of information that, 20 years ago, would have been valueless.

Threat actor motivations are turning increasingly hostile; threat campaigns are increasingly destructive; and tools are increasingly available. High powered offensive tools are increasingly available to threat actors. Exploit tools and malware to harvest hundreds of thousands of zombie bots for massive denial of service attacks are available in the hacker marketplace. As regards physical security risks, with the demise of ISIS territorial control in Iraq and Syria, thousands of trained foreign fighters are now returning to their homelands, including the United States, Canada and numerous other countries that enjoy visa-free travel to the United States. Many more are being radicalized via the Internet.

“The nature of work and supporting technology is rapidly changing, and many organizations can barely keep pace.”

Today’s organizations increasingly operate outside traditional perimeters and struggle to keep up with the changing pace of technology. The nature of work and supporting technology is rapidly changing, and many organizations can barely keep pace. Employees increasingly operate from mobile locations, often connecting directly cloud-based services, and operational technology (IOT, industrial control systems) is usually net-enabled.  Organizations are challenged to remediate vulnerabilities in legacy technology infrastructure and increasingly leverage third-party outsourcers and other services. If security discipline is not applied to managing these changes, adversaries will exploit them to gain new entry points into an organization.

Policymakers are, in turn, responding to these changes in inherent risk in a variety of ways – ranging from changed spending priorities to enforcement action to proposed changes in laws and regulation.

Join us in San Francisco on April 16 for the Cyber Risk Forum. Keynotes include Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security, and Rob Joyce, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator. Space is limited to 50 CEOs and Board Members. Register today!

Q: What are the key questions that CEOs and directors should be asking their technologists and CISOs as we head into 2018-19?

A: CISOs and technologists should introduce cybersecurity conversations and recommendations to boards by keeping them relevant, risk-focused and role-based. Directors respond well to case studies – when advising, contextualize issues with relevant news stories, and tie them to directors’ focus areas: risk management, value creation, and metrics.

As a board chair, I don’t want to over-manage. But I do want to make it clear that security is a priority to our board, that we will invest in it to a reasonable degree, and that we have accountability. It is valuable to get the CISO up to the board to present and walk directors through what we’ve been seeing over the last quarter in terms of nature of attacks, reconnaissance, security trends, and how we rank in terms of maturity. It helps the CISO feel like he/she is being taken seriously and it drives the CISO to make sure that he or she has got a good story to tell.

When I was at DHS, I met with President Bush every week to go over the threat matrix. In preparation for the meeting, everybody in the relevant departments – the IC, DHS, FBI – made sure that word went out that we were going to be meeting with the President. It energized people to get stuff done. As a management tool, having someone come in to report to the board with metrics is a good way to motivate folks to do something.

Click here for part 2.

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