Cisco Security Business Group. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine

Cisco Security’s SVP And GM On Securing The Cloud And Revisiting Trust

Interview with Gee Rittenhouse at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)

– Steven T. Kroll

Northport, N.Y. – Feb. 11, 2019

The Cybersecurity Ventures team sat down to talk with Gee Rittenhouse — senior vice president and general manager of security at Cisco — on the Manhattan campus of the New York Institute of Technology. Overlooking Central Park on a deceptively sunny yet bitter winter’s day, Rittenhouse articulated his thoughts on the industry, advice for CISOs, and the power of trust.

Cybersecurity Almanac

Cybersecurity Ventures and Cisco Security have just published the first ever, annual Cybersecurity Almanac, a digestible encyclopedia of the 100 most important facts, figures and statistics on cybersecurity, curated by Steve Morgan, founder and editor-in-chief of Cybersecurity Ventures.

On the importance of the Cybersecurity Almanac and the new partnership between Cisco and Cybersecurity Ventures, Rittenhouse said, “This is a void in the industry that we’re really excited to help fill.”

Cybersecurity is very complex with a lot of numbers flying around. The problem for everyone involved is how to stay in the know. “There is confusion in the marketplace. As we adopt new technologies, it’s very hard to keep up, so the Cybersecurity Almanac is all in one place, in a very concise format,” said Rittenhouse. 

Securing the Cloud

According to the Cybersecurity Almanac, the total amount of data stored in the cloud — which includes public clouds operated by vendors and social media companies (think AWS, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), government-owned clouds that are accessible to citizens and businesses, and private clouds owned by mid-to-large-sized corporations — will be 100X greater in 2022 than it is today.

“From a security perspective, the cloud adds a level of complexity,” said Rittenhouse, “because we don’t have a well-defined perimeter anymore in the enterprise.” This is no problem for Rittenhouse, as “cloud and security go hand in hand.” Cisco continues to expand its portfolio to ensure proper security as businesses move their processes into the cloud.

Rittenhouse’s Advice

Rittenhouse brings a lot of experience to the industry, first earning a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, which he then used to begin his career at Bell Labs, ultimately becoming president of the company before moving into his role at Cisco Security.

This remarkable career began at a very young age. “I was an experimenter and kind of fooling around with tech,” said Rittenhouse.

His impressive expertise in security places Rittenhouse in a unique position to offer advice to CISOs and CIOs. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, 100 percent of large corporations (Fortune 500, Global 2000) globally will have a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or equivalent position by 2021 (up from 70 percent in 2018), although many of them will be unfilled due to a lack of experienced candidates. As the demand for top security professionals grows, one would be well-advised to listen to Rittenhouse.

“Because the technology rollouts in the industry are so fast that people don’t necessarily anticipate the consequences, the first thing is to just have a plan, a process, a compliance in place,” said Rittenhouse. “But then the second thing that happens is that as you go through it, you don’t want to kind of figure out security in the middle of an incident. That’s when panic sets in.”

The Importance of Trust

Always thinking forward, Rittenhouse sees the quality of attacks and the quality of code rising in 2019. Simply put, the threats increase daily. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that cybercrime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021 – exponentially more than the damage inflicted from natural disasters in a year, and more profitable than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined.

And with all this crime, where does one begin to stop it? Rittenhouse believes in a simple concept that is equally important as threat, breach, and detection. “It’s going back and revisiting trust. Trust has been part of security since the very beginning.”

It’s paradoxical to stay ahead of technological innovation by way of an old and important concept. But as Rittenhouse said, “We take a very comprehensive view of the security industry to protect our customers.” And that view must include trust.

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