Tracey Mustacchio. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine.

Secureworks CMO: No Marketing Degree, Vast Experience

Tracey Mustacchio believes learning more about cybercriminals will help AI defeat them

David Braue

Melbourne, Australia – Jul. 9, 2021

In a market dominated by messaging promising infosec panaceas, Tracey Mustacchio is ready to offer customers something new — and she is confident she’s picked the right company to do it from.

As a career marketer with a highly technical background, Mustacchio — who recently joined security firm Secureworks as its chief marketing officer — has seen a stream of products come and go, and she knows what it takes to get the right messages out to ensure their success.

“There are a lot of challenges around technology marketing, and cybersecurity,” she told Cybercrime Magazine. “There are so many of the same market messages out there [promising] that ‘we can solve everything and stop every threat.’”

“I think that at some level,” she added, “the job of a marketer is to just be really clear about the unique differentiated value that your company provides. What I’m striving to do is to take these complex situations and problems that customers are facing, and distil them into simple actionable truths for prospects and customers.”

In observing the current cybersecurity landscape — where ransomware continues to be a clear and present danger for all companies — Mustacchio said her conversations with customers had identified three common capabilities on their wish lists.

Cybercrime Radio: Tracey Mustacchio

New CMO joins Secureworks

Customers “want the best security expertise and intelligence available,” she explained, “and they want it backed about machine learning, and in real time, and delivered to their security experts without them having to go through and tune numerous products.”

Visibility is also essential for customers, so they can “clearly see” how attacks spread throughout their environments — and make sure that when they shut down the attack, they’ve stopped all of it rather than just a piece.

Third on the list, Mustacchio said, is expandability. “They don’t want to rip and replace their existing security infrastructure,” she explained.

“Even though ransomware is very worrisome and we’re constantly on the lookout for it, I believe that it can be detected and stopped early in the kill chain if we combine all of these different capabilities together.”

Decades of customer focus

While interviewing for the latest position, Mustacchio said, it became clear that Secureworks’ strategy addressed all of these issues — priming her for an opportunity to help shape the company through a transformative period in the cybersecurity industry.

Her new position is the latest step in a series of career moves that have propelled Mustacchio from a 1990s-era programmer, into marketing at a series of startups, then to managing the security portfolio at fast-growing security interest McAfee.

“It was a really fun time,” she said, recalling the rapid-growth industry in which the startup where she worked, Brightwork Development, was snapped up in 1994 for $10 million amidst an acquisition bonanza by McAfee.

“The one thing that’s been consistent in my career is the focus areas that I’ve had in different product areas,” she said. “I’ve always been around security, information management, and overall data analytics.”

“I went from managing a small team of network management products to the entire security portfolio — and I really found that rapid growth, and constant learning, and stretching of skill sets to be exhilarating.”

Later roles took her to a big data startup, which was then acquired by IBM — where Mustacchio “was tasked with transforming IBM’s overall big-data go-to-market strategy.”

“The focus was really on finding new ways and use cases to bring the value of big data and analytics to their customers,” Mustacchio said.

Her diverse, hands-on career path has given Mustacchio a more technical, relevant skill set than many CMOs — and she believes this expertise will prove invaluable in Secureworks, which she has always respected  “both as experts in security and also for their strong commitment to customer-centricity.”

In building cloud-based versions of the security tools previously used by its own analysts and security operations centers (SOCs), she said, the company has undergone “a really cool transformation that solves a lot of business and security problems.”

“I’m attracted to these big growth and transformational opportunities,” she said, “where there’s an opportunity to make a big difference for customers and there’s a big market shift — and I really see that Secureworks is at the center of those.”

Cultural overhaul

Working alongside incoming CEO Wendy Thomas — who will replace outgoing president and CEO Michael Cote in September — Mustacchio is looking forward to helping refine and expand Secureworks’ unique messaging in a market that has become intensely complex and competitive.

“I don’t have a marketing degree but I’ve got a lot of real-world experience,” she said, adding that one of the most valuable exercises in managing the transition to marketing was participating in a CMO peer-networking organization.

Participants would meet over dinner — under NDA, of course — and spitball ideas for marketing strategies.

“We could talk with each other and expose challenges, show a marketing plan and get folks to beat it up,” she explained. “That value of the peer community having a think tank to go to really bolstered my marketing skills and my ability to move forward into a CMO role.”

As a CMO with 20 years’ experience in running SOCs, she feels well-prepared to help Secureworks leverage its depth of knowledge and expertise to refine its product set to best support customers’ fast-changing requirements.

“It’s just the best of both worlds,” she said. “You’ve got all the technology you need, the automation and machine learning AI, backed by years of battle-tested security expertise. And I think those are high-level differentiators.”

As Mustacchio works to help Secureworks continue leveraging those strengths into market share, she will have strong support for those from Thomas — who has her own history of significant change, having driven the company’s acquisition of Verisign’s Managed Security Services (MSS) business and pushed the company into the fast-growing field of security analytics.

Just where Secureworks will push next remains to be seen, but Mustacchio is getting the lay of the land and taking notes along the way.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that as technology shifts and new innovations occur, there are always going to be new threats,” she said.

“We know that humans alone can’t stop everything, so we really need to focus on learning more about our super-creative adversaries — because the better we can use automation and machine learning and AI, the better we will be able to stop them.”

David Braue is an award-winning technology writer based in Melbourne, Australia.

Go here to read all of David’s Cybercrime Magazine articles.