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Leveraging Cloud, Big Data and Mobility Initiatives

In the Boardroom with... Mr. John Felker, Director, Cyber and Intelligence Strategy, HP Enterprise Services, U.S. Public Sector

John Felker is the Director, Cyber and Intelligence Strategy, at HP Enterprise Services, U.S. Public Sector. He works to develop cyber intelligence strategies to better integrate a broad range of cyber intelligence inputs to improve defensive cyber and business operation efforts, in direct support of the public sector and critical infrastructure industries.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: Thank you for joining us today, John. Before we drill down into your perspectives on cybersecurity trends and the current threat landscape, please tell us about your background and your role at HP.

John Felker: Previous to HP, I served almost 30 years as a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) officer involved in surface operations, international affairs, intelligence and cyber operations. The last seven years of my career in the USCG, I was the Executive Assistant to the Director of Coast Guard Intelligence, Commander of the Coast Guard Cryptologic Group, and Deputy Commander, Coast Guard Cyber Command. In these assignments the focus was on improving Coast Guard intelligence programs, cyber defenses, developing policy and programs for the connection of intelligence supporting cyber defense, and supporting the overall USCG mission. At HP, I currently work to develop cyber intelligence strategies to better integrate a broad range of cyber intelligence inputs to improve defensive cyber and business operation efforts, in direct support of our public sector and critical infrastructure industries.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: It is commonly stated by industry that today's security threats are more sophisticated than ever. Building walls and reacting to intrusions is no longer enough to keep your critical systems, data and assets secure. On HP.com, the company states that, "HP connects the science and technology of cybersecurity with industry-leading services, products, and solutions. We build in security upfront, so that our services secure the mission of our government clients - not just meet their need for enhanced information technology." Can you elaborate on how HP approaches its client's cybersecurity concerns?

John Felker: HP works hard with our customers to assess and understand their needs and their mission. As a premier provider of risk management and security intelligence solutions, HP enables a broad array of government, commercial enterprise and critical infrastructure enterprises throughout the world to mitigate cyber threats before they can cause harm. By leveraging our global presence, extensive experience and unique understanding of cybersecurity issues, both government and commercial enterprises are able to proactively and effectively meet their cybersecurity challenges, minimizing risks and mitigating threats.

HP has established a long successful history of cybersecurity knowledge, expertise and innovation in order to help our clients successfully:

  • Prepare, Identify, Detect and Disrupt cyber threats through in-depth threat analysis and management, along with comprehensive technologies specifically designed to directly mitigate increasingly sophisticated security attacks.
  • Manage enterprise risk, vulnerability, compliance, governance and operational maturity to proactively model the security control environment in a manner that specifically addresses threats, regulatory dynamics and business demands, across a harmonized control architecture.
  • Extend security, operational and business capabilities by embracing the New Style of IT to drive a more agile security program and enable the business - via secure cloud, mobility and Big Data - to leverage cost-effective delivery models and global presence.

HP takes an enterprise view of security that, in turn, helps our clients overcome the limitations typically associated with historical and siloed views of risk mitigation, globalized security and cost reductions. With the increased deployment of digital technologies, frequently operated remotely and unmanned, comes the need for increased cyber- and physical security for critical assets such as SCADA systems. At HP, we don't simply improve your security posture to address threats and manage risk and compliance, we also bring to bear an array of services, solutions and industry-leading technology to ensure you maintain a proactive, mature and agile security posture designed to navigate through ever-evolving threat and regulatory landscapes.

By leveraging cloud, Big Data and mobility initiatives, you can evolve into a more proactive operating model that will increase productivity, optimize resource utilization and help you build and maintain safe, secure and environmentally sound operations.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: What is your perspective regarding any special cybersecurity considerations necessary to protect our nation's critical infrastructure? For example, recent headlines regarding the military style attack on a California nuclear power station suggest that our energy, transportation and water grids, are particularly vulnerable. What are your thoughts regarding these critical industries?

John Felker: The nation's critical infrastructures are mandated to meet their reliability and performance goals, in addition to effectively addressing the myriad of today's cyber threats. As the threat landscape continues to evolve, presenting new challenges daily, a constructive dialogue between the practitioners of cyber- and physical security needs to occur. On both sides of the responsibility equation there needs to be a recognition of the common areas of concern and increased levels of cooperation - not only for better overall defense, but to maximize allocated resources.

More and more, from a cyber-perspective, the critical infrastructure of our nation is at risk. Whether by nation-state actors, criminal organizations, hacktivists or any number of hackers looking to prove their skills, our country's safety and economic prosperity is threatened. In order to effectively address these evolving cybersecurity threats, there are four primary issues to consider:

  1. Becoming more proactive and dynamic in our cyber-defense efforts through the use of intelligence
  2. Better user behavior management
  3. Assessing risk using meaningful metrics and then conveying those threats in the language that clearly conveys business/mission impact; in essence, putting the information into terms that mean something to executive leadership
  4. Operating resiliently - always operational through any intrusion

In addition to addressing cyber threats, critical infrastructure owners must also harmonize security controls to meet current and emerging regulatory demands. At the end of the day, we must realize that the "systems" we use to operate and manage the elements of our critical infrastructure, are essentially "systems in motion" - that is, constantly changing and evolving. The industrial control systems that operate many aspects of critical infrastructure are now more effectively and economically managed through connection to the Internet, thus, exposing them to greater threat. Because of this exposure, we must become comfortable with the adversary in the "system" and take steps to defend, disrupt, mitigate and proactively create resilience.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: In working through such security issues, do you find that management personnel have the proper levels of threat assessment and threat intelligence in place?

John Felker: I believe there are many astute leaders who are beginning to recognize the importance of defending their networks in order to continue to conduct business, maintain operations even during times of intrusion or other disruptive events, and view cyber defense as a net positive. For example, in the electric utility industry, security programs, along with regulatory compliance and resilient operations, generate a huge amount of data that can be used to improve business efficiency as well as security. When you combine efficiency and security you have a powerful impetus to drive system improvement - and today this is generally done with only a "functional/tactical" level of intelligence in hand.

Looking broadly at potential threat actors in terms of their ability, desire and capacity to intrude, and to exploit and remove intellectual property, financial information and personally identifiable information is the next level of threat assessment and intelligence that leaders need to receive, but generally do not. So while management is getting what it needs in terms of daily defensive operations, it is not getting what it needs to make longer term business decisions related to security and risk assessment.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: What is your belief when it comes to the IT and operational decision-makers discussing mission strategy and cybersecurity solutions? In other words, do you believe the CIO and CEO truly speak the same language?

John Felker: Generally speaking, the CIO and network defenders talk in terms that relate directly to the network, while the CEO and business leadership tend to talk in terms of business outcomes and long-term strategy. These two lexicons do not necessarily intersect, causing disconnects in the business and budget planning process required to support cybersecurity efforts. At a broad level, an enterprise that understands the items that the CEO views as critical to the organization's mission and business processes is needed to develop a sound cybersecurity profile. Senior leaders must define their organizations' strategic requirements based on what assets and programs are of critical value to the business. Then they must evaluate threat actors - in terms of their motivations and how, based on those motivations, the threat actor may target the organization through cyber means. This understanding can then be used to support cybersecurity priorities over time.

SecuritySolutionsWatch.com: Thank you again for joining us today, John. We appreciate the insights you have shared with us today.

This interview originally appeared in SecuritySolutionsWatch.com. Republished with permission.

More Stories By Liz McMillan

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