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SecureWorld Boston highlights value of partnerships

Some 1,500 cybersecurity professionals gathered at this week’s SecureWorld Boston conference that featured discussions with leading industry experts about today’s best cybersecurity practices.

The conference dived into cloud, IoT, network and mobile security, as well as supply chain risk management and tips for defending against nearly all types of cyberthreats. If there’s one big takeaway from the conference sessions, it’s the importance of partnerships — both internal and external — in helping keep a company secure and compliant in today’s threat-laden IT environment.

“Incident response is a shared activity”

In her keynote presentation, Dawn-Marie Hutchinson stressed the importance of partnerships in incident response, explaining that forming and nurturing key relationships before a breach occurs is the best form of incident response. She broke down her list of important partnerships into three categories:

*The technical team, including the CISO as well as the team’s assigned applications, database, network, analytics and evidence experts. This category also includes physical security, which can often factor into breach response.

*The business team, including top executives, the general counsel, media relations and customer relations. These people are critical in maintaining the company’s reputation following a data breach.

Keynote stage at SecureWorld Boston. This year’s theme was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe.

*The outside support team, including outside counsel, forensic providers and insurance providers.

As Hutchinson notes, establishing these relationships now keeps the organization ready for effective incident response when a data breach happens at your company.

Data inventory team

Data inventory is a key component of any compliance initiative, according to Michael Corby, Executive Consultant at CGI. It helps companies stay within regulation boundaries and avoid costly investigations into their companies’ data management. But a good data inventory project needs a solid team.

Finding the data in question means cooperating with the application development team that manages much of the data, as well as key application managers, said Corby. Analyzing and classifying that data requires a team that includes the project manager, compliance subject matter experts, database architects and business analysts. Compliance subject matter experts advise the rest of the team on data regulations protecting PII, like HIPAA and PCI Compliance.

One of the reasons why IT teams often struggle to properly complete data inventory projects is because they can get overwhelmed with the data and fail to reach out to their colleagues for help, according to Corby. Establishing those IT partnerships early on expedites the process and makes the task more manageable for all involved, he said.

First you need a team

Partnering with people is difficult when there’s no one to partner with, however. During the “Emerging Threats” panel, Jimmy Ray Purser, technical evangelist at Illumio, labeled a shortage of skills as one of the top emerging threats in IT. Whether understaffed or overworked, IT teams are feeling the effects of the skills shortage, he said.

With today’s advanced threats, companies need a solid team of skilled workers to combat them, he said. That means not just security professionals, he suggests, but other IT professionals who are familiar the digital landscape. Purser believes companies should allow IT teams to invest more in finding the right skills to benefit the entire team.