Joe Topinka: I think having an enterprise risk management program is really huge, whether it's formal or not, somebody has to be responsible for risk overall, that it gets to this whole idea that it is a team sport and everyone has a role to play, especially business unit leaders that are making decisions on cloud platforms on their own. They're playing a huge role on there. The idea around cybersecurity several years ago wasn't quite where it is now, but the enterprise risk management team has done a really solid effort of elevating the dialog and giving everyone more cognitive and aware that cybersecurity is not just an IT thing, it's a company thing, and it fits into the whole cyber security framework overall.
Speaker 2: Hello and welcome to Security Visionaries. You just heard from today's guest, Joe Topinka, CXO Advisor at Netskope. The responsibility of cybersecurity doesn't only fall on the shoulders of that team, it takes all of us working together. Getting folks on board with security begins by fostering relationships across the organization, particularly with IT and business unit leaders. This allows folks to have vulnerable conversations that ultimately help the organization grow. Before we dive into Joe's interview, here's a brief word from our sponsor.
Speaker 2: The Security Visionaries podcast is powered by the team at Netskope. At Netskope, we are redefining cloud, data and network security with a platform that provides optimized access and zero trust security for people, devices, and data anywhere they go. To learn more about how Netskope helps customers be ready for anything on their sassy journey, visit N-E-T-S-K-O-P-E.com.
Speaker 2: Without further ado, please enjoy episode 18 of Security Visionaries with Joe Topinka, CXO Advisor at Netskope and your host, Mike Anderson.
Mike Anderson: Welcome to today's episode of Security Visionaries podcast. I'm your host, Mike Anderson. I'm the Chief Digital and Information Officer here at Netskope. Today I am joined by Joe Topinka. Joe, how are you doing today?
Joe Topinka: I'm doing well. Well, better, I should say, I'm on my 11th day of COVID, hopefully coming out of it, I tested positive again today, but there's always another day tomorrow, but doing well, thanks for asking. And thanks for having me on the podcast.
Mike Anderson: Absolutely, I'm glad you're getting back into it, hopefully you'll get that negative test soon so you can get out of quarantine. I know that's never fun.
Joe Topinka: Not at all. Not at all.
Mike Anderson: So one of the things, it's interesting is we... Before we get into this, Joe, you and I met several years ago. I had this habit of when I read a book I really love, I like to reach out to the author and connect, and I did that, and you and I instantly had a great... Some great conversations. I brought you in to talk to the team when I was the CIO with Schneider Electric for the North America business. And you and I have remained friends since then, and so it's just... It's real privilege to have you on here, and especially with just your insight in the industry being a super successful CIO and a mentor to CIOs around the world. So maybe just we start the conversation off me, just talk about your journey and being a CIO and how that came about, and some of the learnings along the way.
Joe Topinka: Sounds good. Well, again, thanks for having me on and it's an absolute pleasure to be with you today and also to be working with you here over the last year or so. My career started many, many years ago in the mid-19... Well, late 1980s... Not '80s. 1970s, early 1980s, there we go. See, that's what happens when you get COVID. And I started off as a software engineer. I thought I would never wanna do anything else but write code. And I did that for a large financial institution, actually it's now FIS, so I spent many years there building software. And I was really fortunate, Mike, in that, our leadership team at the time had a different vision around technology, and since they were surrounded by technologists, they really wanted us to start thinking more like business people, business technologists. And so they sent us to a tailored program, they sent us to Northwestern and we learned about product management, this is in probably 1990s or so. And I was just so fortunate to have gotten introduced to the idea of thinking about my area of business like a business person and not a technologist. And so I started thinking about markets and customers and value proposition and things that were, in my past life, pretty foreign to me, and I just really glommed on to it, and one thing led to another, and I got my first CIO opportunity with the bank in New York in Manhattan.
Joe Topinka: And it was just so game-changing for me, so much fun. And the learnings that I was able to acquire through that experience with my colleagues at Northwestern was just absolutely amazing. I still speak to some of them today. But it was a real eye-opening experience and I've never looked back.
Mike Anderson: That's amazing, the whole business relationship piece, your book around IT, business partnerships and your... How you foster that. Fits perfectly, honestly, with our theme this year around security as a team sport, is technology is a team sport. So what made you say, you know what? I'm gonna write this book and share my thoughts. Talk a little bit about that and the role you've got in the Business Relationship Management Institute, I think it'd be great just for our listeners to hear about.
Joe Topinka: Sure, one of the things that I learned early on in my career is this value of networking and interacting and learning and meeting other people and hearing their stories, finding out what their issues and challenges are. There's so many common themes out there and learning from one another there's nothing better than that. And as I started to develop some techniques around the ideas that I ultimately incorporated into the book, I had a number of people ask me to share them. And so I started doing that and doing some informal coaching kind of my side hustle in a way. And it just grew from there, and a number of people asked me to write about it, and I started doing some articles on LinkedIn early in the early days on LinkedIn. Got some good traction there, and I got this bright idea, I actually didn't get that idea from myself, I got it from other people, my wife in particular, who said you should really put a book together around this, which I thought was ludicrous, like who would ever wanna read a book that I wrote?
Joe Topinka: But that's ultimately what I ended up doing. So I wrote a book on my own experiences, largely coming from the opportunity that I was given at FIS, which was called M&I Data Services at the time. And I learned to share that knowledge about how to run IT like a business, think about it, your product area as a true product, meeting with customers. It's really around relationships and understanding those relationships, especially customer relationships, and seeing how they interact with your company, where the roadblocks are and how they're engaging or not engaging, those are all clues to how you can strengthen the relationship, knock down barriers. And I started to think about how can I, as a CIO, make that a more repeatable process within the organizations that I was leading, and that's what ultimately lead to the book and to the stories that I wrote in the book. Most of those stories are... In fact all those stories are true stories.
Joe Topinka: Many of the names were changed to protect the innocent, and not all the stories I told in the book were perfect. A lot of my learnings have come from mistakes that I've made, and I wanted to share those mistakes and how I course corrected and just share those ideas to help people avoid them, if possible. Obviously making mistakes sometimes is one of the best teachers, assuming you're willing to look at your mistakes with a good self-reflection and honesty.
Mike Anderson: No, I totally agree. You shifted now into the CIO mentors, kinda then the shift, kinda the post-CIO journey now for you. Talk a little bit about that move, and then also when you do that, that advising people, how have you taken and continued to foster that sharing and that thinking and the learnings with others?
Joe Topinka: One of the things that I was taught as a young child, my parents sort of drove into us the idea that each of us has our own value we bring. They were very good about not letting us sort of judge other people. We had seven kids in the family, a mom and dad, so there were nine of us, and dinner was always a fun experience. And four of us, we're brothers, we're all big guys, I'm 6'7" and my brothers are well over six feet tall as well, and I remember there'd be a column of bread there, and then my mom would put it down in about two seconds later, there would be no bread left, 'cause everybody would grab as much as they could. But we learned respect, we learned how to have relationships, we learned how to listen. And those life lessons carried through for me. And I think one of the challenges that I see in the marketplace today is that we're releasing people into the wild as professionals and we don't really spend a whole lot of time on how to teach people how to have good relationships and how to have good self-reflection in terms of your own performance.
Joe Topinka: And so I started thinking about how I can share those ideas and concepts with people, how to have good personal accountability, how to think about yourself and your own performance with honest vision and eyes, clear eyes. And so one thing led to another and that's... I had some good success with that and it helped some people become CIOs, had good traction with it, and I just really enjoy it. It's one of those things that just never stopped giving back, and so I'm just sort of addicted to it and in my late 60s, and I have no intention of stopping. I really love this stuff. And I love helping people. It's just a phenomenal experience. And you asked about the Business Relationship Management Institute. When I wrote my book and released it, the institute was just coming online, I didn't know anything about them, and somehow or another, they discovered my book and reached out to me, much like you did, one thing led to another, and they asked me to participate. I joined some committees, I started listening to what they were up to and one thing led another and now I've been in the board chair for the last four or five years, and I've enjoyed it.
Joe Topinka: There's probably 30,000 members worldwide now. They're looking at, I think, crossing a pretty big threshold here soon with 10,000 certified business relationship management professionals. So we're pretty excited about that. So we're watching to see who that person is, and it's a big celebration online when that happens, so it's a great organization. Had a lot of fun with it, and COVID has been a real challenge for a lot of organizations, especially not-for-profits, with the ability to actually do in-person conferences has been sort of a real challenge. But for many of us, we're still making it, still active and people are still coming to our doors and so it's been a lot of fun. And they're all about the same sorts of things: Relationships and people and driving value, and a lot of common themes. So a lot of overlap. If you're looking at a Venn diagram between my book and the institute, there's a lot of common ground there.
Mike Anderson: Well, I know I got a ton of value out. You and I have had a lot of conversations around some of the concepts and agility and how those have come forward, and we can maybe have a whole podcast on that topic on another day. So if we shift our thinking and we come over to security, I can't help but look at the relationship aspect from a security standpoint, and how security leaders need to foster those same kind of relationships, just like all IT leaders have, all technology leaders have, security needs to do the same thing. How have you translated as you... 'Cause you've been directly involved in security now for the last couple of years, how are you advising people on how you take the things from a business relationship management side and IT business partnership side into the security world?
Joe Topinka: That's a great question. And what I'm leaning on are the same principles. There is a trend that I'm seeing where really successful chief information security officers that I've interacted with are starting to think about how they can enhance their business knowledge. So they're beginning to meet more frequently with business leaders around the organization, and in some cases, I see the meeting with external customers, which to me is the holy grail. As a CIO I can't emphasize how important it is, but even as a chief information security officer or any sort of security professional, understanding your customers and how they engage, keeping in mind that you wanna keep their data private and secure, that's your personal brand, that's your company's brand. So just getting that knowledge that helps you to build more effective security programs. And I would add to that the incredibly widening fast speed that we see CORD adoption happening in organizations.
Joe Topinka: We were talking about that 10 years ago, and it was fun to sort of discuss that at every technology professional conference you'd ever go to, that was the topic to your [0:12:18.8] ____... You don't hear about it as much, but what I see now are digital natives coming into the business, and these are people that grew up with an iPad in their hand, so they're completely comfortable with technology. They may not understand all the inner workings like we do as lifetime career IT pros, but they're not afraid to leverage technology, they're not afraid to go grab salesforce.com or any other platform that they think is gonna add value and deliver the right results for them. The thing that I've been really focused in on is helping those business leaders understand that when they go out on their own, we used to talk about shadow IT, I don't hear about that so much anymore largely because the cloud has given rise to the option now. It's very viable for a business unit to go out on their own and procure a platform.
Joe Topinka: I've been working with a number of companies to expand the knowledge of that business leader, to know that they now have a new set of responsibilities that comes along with that cloud platform they just procured. They're now the business owner, they've gotta think about how to secure the data, they gotta make sure their vendors are toeing the line in terms of security protocols, and if there are cyber events they gotta be on top of those and know about them. And so there's a whole set of responsibilities that I've been talking about with those business leaders, and it's been very eye-opening. And in some ways, I think that's the true digital transformation that we're living through right now. It's more around how business leaders are starting to think about cyber security and technology, and it's becoming part of their lexicon. I think it's becoming something that is... Well, it's not optional, they have to understand it, one way or the other, security is not part of the business, and so it's no longer throw it over the wall to the technology group of data analytics now. We, as a business community, have to understand the cyber security aspects of whatever solution we're undertaking and make sure that that vendor is toeing the line, and there's an accountability framework there. So I'm seeing a lot of that, I'm having really good conversations around that in the marketplace. So those are some of the things that I'm seeing and hearing.
Mike Anderson: Yeah man, I think it's a great point. We call it shadow IT, and I've been re-framing that in a lot of our... Some of the things we're writing is really business-led IT. I was with Ryan Talbott over at BorgWarner and he was telling me his CEO told him, he said, "Stop trying to control it and start figuring out how to enable and support it." I think that's the mindset shift we have to get to is technology leaders is our job is not to control it, our job is to help it grow and flourish because in today it's the people closest to the problem are those digital natives now, and they're the best people equipped to solve it, how do we create the right framework and the right... Our own technology mesh inside of our organization so that we can do it, but do it in a safe and secure way.
Joe Topinka: Yeah, absolutely. Gartner last year had published like they do every year, so one of their top 10 or 15 cybersecurity projections or forecasted items. And one of those aspects is just the distributed decision making. And I think it goes right to the heart of this where with cloud and digital natives now running big parts of businesses, you're gonna see less central control over business applications. And so having the right cybersecurity architecture and framework in place and finding the right partners is crucial. And there's another aspect of this that I've been harping on for the last several years, and I think back to Gartner's old design, build, run model, I've kind of reinvented that. I call it the new CIO, and that stands for collaborate, integrate, and orchestrate.
Joe Topinka: So collaborate means with all these cloud platforms that are out there, it's incumbent on you as a business professional to understand those platforms, who's out in the market, who might be able to help you, who might help drive value, and as you select those platforms and you integrate them into your environment, you're not only integrating them, but you're pulling information out of them, you're making them run seamlessly. So there's the collaborate part with cloud and vendor partners, cybersecurity partners, they're integrating it into your environment, making the information available and useful. And then the third leg is orchestrate, making sure the platform runs and that there is oversight and management of that platform on an ongoing basis. So I call that collaborate, integrate, orchestrate instead of design, build, run. And that sort of embodies this whole idea of cloud and how we're doing much more collaboration. And there's a lot more vendor partners in the mix, and finding the right vendor partner is absolutely paramount in your thinking, and that's a new skillset or an enhanced skill set, I think, that has really become critically important for business leaders to know how to manage that vendor partner, select the vendor partner, and work with that vendor partner as you're looking to deliver value and keep your environments secure overall.
Mike Anderson: No, I couldn't agree more. It's unfortunate because I use my own technology, our own technology internally, but what I love is, you know what, I can pull up a dashboard and a new application comes in, and I can simply ask up the question to someone, what problem are you trying to solve? I'm not trying to stop him, I just want to know what problem they're trying to solve, because if they've got that problem, there's probably a 100 other people that have that same problem, or we may already have licenses to the tool they're looking to use, or we may already have licenses to a similar tool. And we can have a conversation about that and see if they looked at it, do they not know about it, because I think we always assume, as IT practitioners, that we publish a catalog and voila, everyone knows all the apps we've got available, but unfortunately, the world doesn't work that way.
Joe Topinka: That's right. Yeah, there's a term I've created too to help IT organizations talk about the platforms that they actually manage and own and operate, and oftentimes I find a business unit leader who's procured that cloud platform, gets themselves into trouble and they ask IT for help. So I created this notion of advocated systems, so those are sanctioned platforms that are owned by the IT organization website, and the company has approved those platforms and asked IT to provide those services on an ongoing basis.
Joe Topinka: So when a business unit leader does something out on their own, that's not necessarily an advocated platform. It could become one, especially if you look at all aspects of managing it, and oftentimes, business unit leaders don't really wanna, ultimately, at the end of the day, manage the vendor or experts at that in IT, and I see that transition happening in some instances now where a business unit leader went out on their own, procured a platform and now is asking IT to pick up at least some aspects of it from a cybersecurity operating platform perspective as well as just managing the vendor relationship. So that advocated system language has become useful because it's given IT a way to describe and talk about what platforms they're actually sanctioned to support, and it gives them an opportunity to talk about taking new things on in addition to what they've been asked to do in a business-oriented way versus just feeling like the business units are just dumping new things on top of them, and every time you turn around.
Mike Anderson: Yeah, that's a great one. Often times it happens where the person that actually was managing that platform, that business unit, leaves and goes somewhere else, and then they're like, "I don't know how to operate this thing. Who's gonna take over it now?" Unfortunately, that's a lot for... That's been a lot of my experience in, is that that's when that conversation tends to happen. But I've always said, "Hey, I'd be happy to support it as long as the budget to support it comes with it." Because [chuckle] we don't have endless resources on either side of the house.
Joe Topinka: No, and that's precisely it, I think. That's part of the transformation that happens, sometimes in real time, when you run into those situations where someone's kind of at their wit's end with a vendor partner that either they're having trouble with, or there was a cyber incident or something along those lines where they're just over their skis, don't really know what to do and they come back to IT. And that's when you reach out and grab their hand and say, "All right, let's figure this out together." That's part of working in a cross-team, cross-collaborative way.
Mike Anderson: Totally agree. I think back about something you said earlier in talking about the understanding of the business. And I think as CIOs, we've been orienting ourself for that way. Now it's really become like, if you're not doing that, you're probably not gonna be in the seat very long, 'cause you gotta know the business you're in in order to know how to directly align what you need to be doing. And not just align, but integrate into it and be that advocate.
Joe Topinka: That's right. Yeah, at the end of the day, the company's goals and objectives are everyone's goals and objectives. And so to the extent you can help contribute to achieving them while doing it with operating efficiency and security, then all the better. And that's the thing I think some business leaders are beginning to see, is that IT isn't necessarily a bad thing. [chuckle] We actually do add a lot of value. There's still a fair amount of ground to cover before I'd say we're to a point where that's universally true, but I think just the nature of the world and the cloud environments that we have, I think that's accelerating. And I think it's a good thing overall.
Mike Anderson: For me, it's always been you spend the first 90 days not just learning your team, but more importantly, learning the business you're in. Because I think one of the traps that all technology leaders fall into CIOs, CISOs, you name it is, "I did this here, so it must work there too." And so you go to your new organization, you take whatever blueprint you had at the previous organization, you bring it to the next one, but every business... Each business is different and they've got different business models, different go-to markets. And if you don't understand that business, you could very easily break things that are working instead of helping generate revenue and reduce risk and reduce cost, for the organization, you do all the opposite things, which is definitely a bad recipe.
Joe Topinka: Yeah, that's a really good point, Mike. And I've been encouraging cyber security professionals to spend more time in business units. One of the things I like to ask them is, "When was the last time you had a conversation with someone outside of the security team or with the IT leader or with the CIO?" And I'm starting to see more affirmative answers where, "Yeah, I'm actually meeting now on a regular basis." It's not informal meeting, or it's a formal meeting once a month, or once every other month. But I'm meeting with the head of marketing and I'm... This division or that division. I think that's crucially important to build those relationships. So they... It sort of demystifies who you are and what role you play, and you have an opportunity to have a one-on-one with someone where they can ask questions where they may not wanna ask them in a crowded conference room and expose their lack of knowledge.
Joe Topinka: I think that's a really safe way to build those relationships. And I... When I'm coaching, that's one of the things that I really zero in on, and to make sure that there's a regular routine interaction with people outside of IT, and more specifically, within business units and even the board. Meeting with board members to whatever. Sometimes the CEO or President doesn't really like IT, just randomly calling board members, so you certainly wanna clear that with your leadership, but you can actually have conversations with those folks outside the quarterly board meeting. And I think it's really healthy to do that now and then.
Mike Anderson: I can't agree more. And I was in a conversation this week, and it's like a lot of times you get people that wanna go build an app for the sake of building an app. I would have app development leaders go, "I've got this great idea, I wanna go build an app." And it's like, "Okay well, what problems is it gonna solve, and what value are we creating for the organization if we do it? And who from the business unit is working with you on that? And what's the... How's this gonna impact the ongoing profitability? What's the... " So we start having these kind of dialog conversations and understanding that business and the risk. When I think about security, it's really about, "What's my appetite for risk?"
Mike Anderson: Sometimes you got... You have a set of risks where those conversations can be harder conversations because maybe there's not an aligned appetite for risk. 'Cause definitely at a functional level, there may be one appetite, but at the CEO and board level, there's a different one. Because today, if I'm a board member, I don't wanna get myself personally in trouble because we don't have the right security governance in the organization. So it's a... I totally agree with you. Having it in a group session is like shaming the person for not knowing. Having it one on one fosters... Gives the ability to have a very vulnerable conversation with someone, but it all comes around like, "Hey, let's make sure we align to what our agreed level of risk is, and if there's an exception to that, let's make sure that we're all locking hands around that and everyone knows it. So if it comes back in the future that the risk bites in the future, that we didn't consciously, not unconsciously."
Joe Topinka: Yeah, and what you're describing to me is a technique that I've recommended and use personally, where if you're looking to make an investment in cyber security or IT in general, I like to shop that idea around to individuals on the executive team, ahead of having the big meeting. So that that gives them an opportunity to ask questions, probe, challenge you, it might even have you go back and rethink what you're asking for. But that's... Someone called it pre-selling, well, I guess it is technically. That doesn't sound as much... Like much fun. But it's just getting people one-on-one where you're sharing why you think the investment makes sense and why you think it's critically important now, and letting them have that opportunity to interact and dialog with you and ask questions. And I'm glad you brought it up, 'cause that's just an incredibly powerful way to make progress and make investments where maybe in the past you struggled and you bring the big requests to the meeting and usually there's push back 'cause they're all hearing about it, even though they may have gotten the materials ahead of time, often times they're busy and they don't read the stuff. And that's just a better way to do it, I think.
Mike Anderson: No, I can't agree more. And it's interesting when you look at the technology community at large from the vendor side, 'cause this is obviously not the first time in my career I've... People have said, "Oh, you've gone to the other side." I'm like, "Well, everyone's selling something to somebody." But first, I'm working for a technology company. The interesting piece is I've seen the other side. Vendors come in and they talk about their features or their product and the road maps and where they're going. And when often gets lost in that is, "What business outcomes is this driving for me that's gonna help my business be better or reduce risk in my business?" The new concept in security is, it's revenue protection, 'cause if I damage my brand because I have a data breach, that's gonna impact my revenue 'cause I'm gonna lose... I'm gonna churn customers. People are not gonna do business with me unless they feel confident that their data is secure with them. And so that revenue protection is a way to think about security. How do you protect your existing revenue streams?
Joe Topinka: Yeah, absolutely. And there is... Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, there are plenty of very public incidents that you can look at in the marketplace and talk about openly about where companies didn't make investments, like Southwest Airline had a huge outage recently, and it turned out there were some investments that had been made over many years, and so it ultimately led to their system shutting down. And I'm not quite certain what happened with the FAA the other day, but now they're talking about some contract employee who did something to a file, and one thing led to another, and I'm sure we'll hear more about that. But yeah, those sorts of things can... While they're timely in the marketplace, you can certainly, as a cyber-security professional, leverage those real-time, real-world experiences as a way to have a discussion, especially when one-on-one. "Did you hear about that? Did you see what happened?" And draw some parallels in your own organization and talk about what you're doing and what needs be done. It's a perfect opportunity to do that.
Mike Anderson: Yeah, I remember when all the ransomware first started hitting the scene, I would get text messages or emails from CEOs saying, "Hey, are we you okay?" [chuckle] That would be the... I get a forward of the press announcement of something happening, "Are we okay?" No, it's interesting when you think about this, 'cause it's a... A lot of times in security you've got... And you've got varying degrees of accountability and budget responsibility between security, and I really look at it as more like the infrastructure side of the house inside companies. And there's been this natural friction there because a lot of the budget, when the investment started happening in security, the team that got most of the budget cut was the infrastructure team because they had to provide the budget for security, the carve out. And it's... That friction still lives. I think I saw a stat yesterday that 49% of security professionals have a good relationship with their infrastructure peers.
Joe Topinka: Yeah, I see that same phenomenon. It's trying to... If I could just remember this phrase, I'll see if I can come up with it. But, one group's responsible for moving packets, the other is responsible for stopping packets. [laughter] That's like, wait a minute, something's wrong with that definition. But I did hear a cyber security professional giving that definition, and that's where the conflict in infrastructure maybe comes from, who knows.
Mike Anderson: Yeah, for that network team, it's always the mean time to innocence 'cause everyone always blames the network, it's gotta be the network, something's wrong with the network. And, "How quickly can I prove it's not the network?" And the first call from the network guy is always to the security team going, "Hey, what did you... Did you put something in the network? Did you deploy some kind of new agent on people's machines that's causing problems?"
Joe Topinka: Exactly, I'm sure I've heard that more than once over the last year in particular.
Mike Anderson: Yeah, it's a... And I think that's that cross-functional working. It's... I think as CIOs 'cause still 80% of CISOs still reporting to CIOs, I believe, if you look at a lot of companies. And I think it's on... That something as CIOs, as leaders, they need to foster that interconnectivity between those two teams and those relationships, and you have to do it all the way down. 'Cause oftentimes the relationship can work well at the infrastructure operations leader and the security leader that are both reporting to the CIO. The challenge is, you gotta translate that all the way down to the front line of your teams, and make sure that everyone's working well together. And I think that's where we have a lot of work to do as CIOs.
Joe Topinka: Yeah, I completely agree. And that reminds me of a challenge that I see a lot of organizations struggle with, and there aren't really solid enterprise risk management programs in place, at a lot of the organizations that I've interacted with and worked with one or two exceptions. And in those instances, having that discussion on a more broad level are more difficult just because there isn't an acknowledged function in place. I know that PwC had done an annual study, I haven't checked to see if they've done it in the last year or two. But I think it's something like 20% or 30% of organizations have formal enterprise risk matching programs, and they tend to be large enterprises 'cause they have to have those. But small organizations, mid-sized organizations don't really have a formal program. And I think that's a real challenge because it's harder to get to that team sport concept when you don't have a obfuscation that's really zeroed in on risk and privacy in a way that would really enhance that as a concept inside companies.
Joe Topinka: But I do think that's changing. And part of what I see too, Mike, is several insurance providers are now asking more questions around that. They wanna know, "How sophisticated is your program?" And, "Do you have a program, and does it live outside of IT? Do you have enterprise risk? And what measures and metrics are you using, and what methodologies are you using, and have you tested them?" They're just starting to get more real about it, I think partly because they're going to pay out on incidents and they're getting smarter about what they expect from their customers overall. But I think not... I think having an enterprise risk management program is really huge, whether it's formal or not, somebody has to be responsible for risk overall, 'cause it... That gets to this whole idea that it's... It is a team sport, and everyone has a role to play, especially business unit leaders that are making decisions on cloud platforms on their own.
Joe Topinka: They're playing a huge role on that where I'm working with one client to help frame up a distributed decision-making model that encompasses requirements around enterprise risk, legal, privacy, cyber security. Trying to think about what that framework looks like, so that if business units are out on their own, they're using an enterprise risk management sanctioned framework to make good decisions. And then there's a trust but verify audit methodology in place to make sure that... Not to do gotcha work, but just to make sure that people are actually following the rules and things are happening the way they ought to, and looking for ways to enhance the whole process. But I see that hopefully happening more and more. One company in particular has done a really good job, I would say their name, but I don't think they would want me to do that. But it's really neat to see, that's one organization where the idea around cyber security several years ago wasn't quite where it is now, but the enterprise risk management team has done a really solid effort of elevating the dialogue and getting everyone more cognitive and aware that cybersecurity is not just an IT thing, it's a company thing. And it fits into the whole cyber security framework overall.
Mike Anderson: We learn in business school. What do we care about? We care about growing revenue, we care about reducing our cost so we can re-invest and becoming more efficient, we care about reducing risk in our business, and we care about strategically staying ahead of our competition. And now do you bring into that ESG and how do we make a more sustainable organization? Is often a key theme on the environmental side. I think about risk, and if you frame it in that way, we have scenario planning in business for a reason. Because if certain things... If my raw material prices go up, what's that risk it's gonna create for the business?
Joe Topinka: Yeah, exactly. It's a healthy conversation, and table top exercises, if you can get organizations to do them, are really impactful, playing through those scenarios and asking executives to think about what they do in an actual response situation is really pretty telling. So I've seen some organizations do that really effectively, and that's one way where I've seen that education and those light bulbs start to pop on. When you're living through a simulated experience and you're starting to think about markets and customers and issues and impacts, it starts to get people pretty serious about understanding where things stand in the organization and how would we respond. So I've seen that as a healthy way to sort of promote the idea that it is truly a team sport.
Mike Anderson: Yeah, I fully agree and you just brought it to mind as I think about security as a team sport goes beyond the people inside my business, it goes out to the ecosystem I'm in, my suppliers I work with. If I'm a manufacturer and I have a supplier, if I have a sole source supplier, because I'm trying to get a really good price on raw materials, but that supplier doesn't have a good security program and they get compromised, that could cripple my supply chain. And so bringing that cyber risk into the conversation around your procurement strategy, I think is another part of that security as a team sport. How do we help the ecosystem and the community at large do better?
Joe Topinka: I was a CIO at a mid-sized manufacturing organization in Charlotte a couple of years back. It's a company that produces and manufacturers home entertainment equipment. So things like speakers, amplifiers, TVs, routers and switches, access points, anything that you'd need for a home network. And I built a cloud platform there that allowed the professional installer to configure and manage all of those devices from a smartphone. So, one of the products is a surge protector, and we gave them the ability, through firmware, to access every single outlet on that surge protector. So if a client called and said, "Hey, my Roku is frozen." Or, "My Apple TV is frozen." The installer, or the company that installed the product can actually go to that location, get to that surge protector and power cycle that outlet to get them back up and running. And so that whole experience where we were building firmware that was embedded in all these hardware platforms really made me nervous, and so I engaged a innovative cyber security company to come in and take our top 10 products, and I asked them to have their way with them, to see what holes they could poke in them.
Joe Topinka: And so that was the first time at this organization that we really spent any kind of concerted effort or focused time on thinking through how we would secure those platforms. 'Cause the last thing I wanted was one of those platforms to experience a breach and then have the reputation of the company go down the drain. So it's really an eye-opening experience, and we... They did find problems, and it launched a whole set of cyber security initiatives where we had to revamp our firmware architecture so that it was hardened, and so the kernels, you weren't able to touch them. And we invented a way to do firmware updates through the platform. And so it was really game-changing for the organization. Whereas in the past, they hadn't thought about that firmware and the cyber security aspects of it and what the potential risks were. So that was a really fun experience for me. I felt like a pioneer in the woods at the time we were doing it just a number of years ago now. It was a lot of fun. And I keep in touch with them and they're still very, very focused on cybersecurity, 'cause the obvious downsides of not sorting that are pretty consequential, so they've done a really nice job.
Mike Anderson: Absolutely. Why don't I shift a little bit here, I want you to be a futurist for me here. So as we think about where the industry is going as CIOs, and maybe this is a two-part question. As we fast forward 5-10 years into the future, where do you feel like CIOs wish they would have invested in? Maybe first, if you think about particularly in the cyber security area, where do you feel like they should have invested? And then on the other side, technology overall?
Joe Topinka: Cyber security first, I'd say zero trust is a... I hate using the phrase because sometimes it causes people's eyes to glaze over. But I think as an architecture of philosophy as an organization, if you start to think about zero trust and how you can implement that in an effective way across your platforms whether cloud or not or on-prem. The whole castle moat concept goes away, and you're really looking at authenticating users on devices and locations. That mindset, that concept, and that... The ability of an organization to adapt those principles, I think is one of the most robust and strongest ways to protect customer data, and the organization. So I think as a CIO, I would imagine if I could see into the future, I would probably wish I had spent more money and invested more time in getting that platform to a state of reality in the company that I work with. Because in terms of technology overall, I just think there's just gonna be a continued acceleration of Cloud, IOT, artificial intelligence, machine learning. Those are all gonna be vivid realities for us, and I think investing in understanding your data and knowing how to protect that data will become an area that I think looking forward, I hope CIOs are investing in right now.
Joe Topinka: In 5 or 10 years, I'm not sure if I'll still be working, but if I am, it will be fun to kind of look back at what we talked about today and see how reality sort of unfolded over the next several years.
Mike Anderson: I agree. And there's one thing you said when you talked about zero trust, I think it's really important for CIOs and CISOs to think about is, NIS published a document around zero trust architecture and when you read it, the pictures themselves lean towards a on-prem application or a private application. And some of those can live in the cloud obviously, 'cause when I build in public cloud, those are still private apps. But I think we really have to be thinking across all applications. So even that SaaS application, I need to be applying those same principles from a zero trust architecture to SaaS applications, just like I do my public cloud applications. 'Cause in fact, the console that I use to build applications in cloud and hyper-scalers is a SaaS application. And it's gotta have governance around it, so you don't have a business unit, going back to your term earlier, advocated platforms, I could have an advocated instance inside AWS. Well, I want people building there not in their own rogue instance because, A, that doesn't count toward my contract I signed with AWS on my... I don't get the discounts, and by the way, none of my security tiling is there. I think practitioners and CIOS and CISOs need to be thinking about all apps, not just the ones that reside inside their data center or public cloud environments.
Joe Topinka: Yeah, absolutely. And at the end of the day, whatever app, wherever it is, it's still part of the company's brand, and if it... If something happens, no one's gonna care if it's on-prem or not, they're just gonna care that there was an incident and maybe data got exfiltrated or worse. And so I think that's a really good point you're making. And I don't think that problem is getting any easier 'cause from what I see, there are... Everyday there's another cloud solution and it's coming out with more capabilities that companies are gonna be able to take advantage of.
Mike Anderson: All right, well, we're coming up on the end of our episode, and we always end our episodes with some quick hits. One other question I have for you today, since we're on the topic of books. What is the favorite book you've read this year and why?
Joe Topinka: I just finished Cy Wakeman's No Ego. I've been a big fan of Cy Wakeman for years, I have gotten to know her a little bit. But her book is really around personal accountability, self-reflection, it just... It really speaks to me as a coach and a leader, that it starts with you as an individual. And so her stories are raw and real, and those lessons that she teaches in her book are lessons for all of us. So I'd really encourage people to pick it up and take a look at it, it's been a real big plus for me. I really think the simplicity of her messages and her language and her teachings are so powerful. Self-reflection is one of the key aspects of my performance as a leader, as I think about my own performance. If you can get good as self reflection and honestly evaluating your own performance without judging, it's just remarkable what it can do for you.
Mike Anderson: Well, I might have to add that one ro my reading list, that one sounds great. The only other question I'm gonna ask today is, 'cause you just have such a wealth of information and wisdom in this, what's the best leadership advice you've ever gotten?
Joe Topinka: Well, I think beyond self-reflection, it's just this idea that leadership starts with self, it starts with you. And there's a definition of personal accountability that I live by, and it starts with committing yourself 100% to whatever you do. And when you do that, that means it's likely that you'll have resilience, and so you'll take something on, you know you're gonna run into roadblocks, but you're gonna find a way to succeed despite your circumstances. So, commitment and resilience are parts of that, then the next pillar is ownership, owing the results, whether they're good results or bad results. And then the fourth pillar is learning from that, all of that, so ownership, resilience, commitment, learning, all of those things really. If you come into the office or virtually, however you come in, start your day thinking about those four pillars, it's remarkable what it can do to sort of change the way you approach relationships and your work, even your life at home.
Mike Anderson: This has just been an amazing conversation. And Joe every time you and I get together, I just can't say how much I appreciate just the dialog. I think I learn something new for you every time we talk, and that's what I appreciate about our friendship and the relationship we formed over the years. Thank you so much for being a guest today. The... I always try to summarize the conversation, it's hard to pick three things, but I'll try to pick three things that just stuck out in my mind. First and foremost, I love the new acronym, the collaborate, integrate, orchestrate, because it speaks to that security is a team sport, and we have to foster relationships, we have to get those one-on-one relationships so we can have that vulnerable conversation so that we can grow together. That would be the first one. The second one, I love the concept of advocated platforms. That really helps us reframe the thinking around... From shadow IT to business-led it, and how do we partner with people so we're not just picking it up later once someone's left the organization, but we're partnered from the beginning. And then the third one that really I picked out of this is beyond the self-reflection, 'cause that one just... We can have a whole other podcast just on that whole concept.
Mike Anderson: The company objectives are everyone's objectives, and as we think about cyber security, we need to make sure that cyber security is built into the objectives of the overall organization, and we understand what the appetite for risk is, and we're having that conversation with our business leaders so that we are all integrated and working together towards the same unified goal. It has been great Joe, to have you on today. Thank you so much for taking the time.
Joe Topinka: Well, I just want to say thanks for having me on, it's always a pleasure and I love our discussions and interactions and I always learn something from you as well. So thanks for having me on, I really appreciate it.
Mike Anderson: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Joe. I wanna thank all of our listeners today that are listening to this episode of the Security Visionaries podcast. I'm your host, Mike Anderson, CIO and Chief Digital Officer here at Netskope. Have a great day.
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