Patrick Ford. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine.

A Benevolent “Pit Bull” Safeguarding Global Privacy At Schneider Electric

How a former FBI agent helps secure the global specialist in energy management and automation

Steven T. Kroll

Northport, N.Y. – Apr. 5, 2019

Patrick Ford has been described as a pit bull – in a good way.

“I want to find a solution and help people. And I don’t rest until I get to that end solution,” says Ford, chief information security officer, Americas Region, at Schneider Electric, an energy management and process automation company with a lot of verticals — healthcare, oil and gas, the auto and water industries — and around 170,000 employees in 150 countries. Ford is in charge of security for a large portfolio: “It’s a good third, market wise.”

He started his career at the FBI when cybersecurity was a budding problem. “Before we even had the cyber division, I started out at the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, which is now the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center). The FBI, like many organizations, didn’t quite have a handle on it at the time,” says Ford, so they created a department to centralize and handle all cybercrime. This was in 2000.

Of course, the typical hacks and breaches were occurring at the time. One of the violations fielded by the office was the Beanie Baby fraud, when people ordered those delightful little dolls but never received them. He also investigated “pump and dumps” – inflating stock through the spread of false information online and then selling off quickly.

Ford transitioned from fighting cybercriminals for the FBI to chief security officer at Aetna and then moved into his current role. He thinks a lot about the protection of privacy because Schneider Electric is a global company that works with many regulatory bodies, all with different views on guarding people’s data.

“Schneider takes the least common denominator” when it comes to privacy, says Ford. In a mathematical sense, this means they aim for the highest level of privacy for all of their data. “We err on the side of the customer; we err on the side of the employee to make sure we don’t violate their trust.” Although some may find this attention a bit extreme, Ford thinks it’s a responsibility, not a burden.

Another important aspect of cybersecurity for Ford is communication – something that’s necessary for a company spread out all over the world. There are two types that Ford focuses on. The first is through the cloud, with a team of experts to make sure that everything is uniform across the entire company. In this way, different divisions can collaborate and share information easily and securely.

Additionally, communicating to board members and other C-Suite executives in plain language is equally essential. Ford believes that “sizable investments bring incremental change. And they build on each other.” This has to be expressed simply and clearly so that companies can strategically move forward in their cybersecurity plans.

Ford takes his own advice when he looks to the future of the industry and says simply: “The risk is wide, and it can come from any direction.” That’s why you should have a friendly pit bull by your side.

Steven T. Kroll is a public relations specialist and staff writer at Cybercrime Magazine.


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