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Posts tagged ‘Cybersecurity in a COVID-19 World’

Centrify’s New CEO Has A Compelling Vision For The Future Of Cybersecurity

Bottom Line: Flint Brenton’s vision for the future of Centrify and cybersecurity, in general, prioritizes the need for privileged access management to become core to the multi-cloud architectures and DevOps environments he sees pervading customers’ enterprises today.

Every new cybersecurity company CEO is writing their vision of the future by their decisions and the priorities they are based upon. From tech dominance to sales success, each CEO has their own long-term strategy and idea of what they and the company need to excel at to succeed.

Defining Cybersecurity As A Core Part Of DevOps

It is always fascinating to speak with new CEOs at cybersecurity companies and see what their vision for the company is after they’ve been there a few months. I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Flint Brenton, who joined Centrify as President and CEO in July of this year. Flint leads the strategic direction and execution of the company’s vision drawing from an exceptional track record of accelerating growth through product innovation and sales execution. He recently served as president and CEO of CollabNet VersionOne, which pioneered the Value Stream Management market. He previously held president and CEO positions at AccelOps and Tidal Software and has successfully led engineering teams at NetIQ, Compaq, BMC Software, IBM and more.

Flint sees the needs of enterprise developers creating new apps using DevOps as pivotal to the future of Centrify, specifically and cybersecurity in general. A core part of those developers’ needs is securing privileged access management (PAM) in multi-cloud environments while supporting agile development. 

My interview with him provided five key insights into why cybersecurity will increasingly be defined by how well it can be incorporated into “DevSecOps,” and how Centrify’s vision for the future looks to capitalize on that demand and drive PAM into the DevOps pipeline to further automate built-in security practices:

  • Cybersecurity providers’ cloud-based architectural platforms will define the competitive landscape for the next several years in the industry. Since accepting the CEO role in July, Flint has been spending most of his time talking with customers to gain in-depth insights into their greatest challenges. He is hearing about the challenges customers face when attempting to make different cybersecurity vendors’ solutions work together and function in a multi-cloud architecture. “Having a clear architectural advantage where features can be added quickly is going to be key in cybersecurity for years to come,” he explained.
  • Any cybersecurity company’s vision needs to consider the speed at which infrastructure and workloads are moving from on-premise to the cloud – it’s faster than predicted. One of Centrify’s financial services customers in APAC is launching a virtual bank and wants the new venture to be entirely cloud-based. Like many Centrify customers, they are considering a multi-cloud architecture, including Amazon AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. Flint explains they will need a security model and identity management controls that run in the cloud to accommodate their current and future computing plans. The FinTech is relying on Centrify to secure privileged access for administrators to its multi-cloud environment.
  • Viewing every enterprise customer as a software business first helps remove roadblocks to delivering more value faster. Cybersecurity companies need to consider how they can streamline DevOps and DevSecOps cycles by providing enterprise developers with new tools to integrate identity management efficiently. “The developer is now building identity management into apps and frequently those apps are built using container-based models and they are then deployed either into cloud, on-prem, or a combination of both,” Flint said.
  • Design in flexibility for the many different buying communities you’re trying to serve early on and continually monitor them to learn about what’s most valuable to them. DevOps leaders’ buying community is among the most self-sufficient, willing to download a trial, install it and buy it. Enterprise sales are more research and time-intensive. Flint observed that a company’s vision needs to encompass each buying community’s unique nature and be willing to extend platform-level features and DevOps tools if necessary.
  • Buy-in from the DevOps community will become increasingly important in cybersecurity in general and is a core part of Centrify’s vision. Prior to taking the helm at Centrify, Flint was the CEO of CollabNet VersionOne, where he helped define value stream management as a market standard. I asked him if he sees any parallels with value stream management’s success and the vision he has for Centrify. “The key with value stream management is to understand how developers wanted or needed to build software more successfully in the future. So you have to get the buy-in of the development community to include it in what they’re building, rather than making an appetite of adding it after it’s already been deployed. So I think that’s a major focus in the DevSecOps market. Make it part of what is built. Don’t allow it to become an afterthought,” Flint said. The future of cybersecurity will increasingly be defined by how easily Identity Access Management (IAM) and Privileged Access Management (PAM) can be designed at the beginning of DevOps and DevSecOps cycles.

Conclusion

What I find most compelling about his vision is how essential every person is to breaking apart complex cybersecurity problems and solving them. Flint’s vision of providing DevOps teams with the tools they need to design in identity access management is groundbreaking. No one is talking about design wins in this area of the market today.

Centrify is quickly turning into a company that actively seeks out their customers’ most difficult obstacles and uses them to challenge itself to grow and do excellent work. They are looking for cybersecurity leaders with cloud-based development skills, AI skills and automation skills who are up for the challenge.

Protecting Privileged Identities In A Post-COVID-19 World

Protecting Privileged Identities In A Post-COVID-19 World

Bottom Line: Every organization needs to digitally reinvent their business, starting at the system level to safely sell and serve customers with minimal physical interaction.

The hard reset every business is going through creates a strong sense of urgency to increase the agility, speed, and scale of selling, as well as customer service options that protect the health of employees, customers, and partners. Customer experience needs to be the cornerstone of digital transformation, with the customers’ health and welfare being the highest priority. Businesses need to realize that digitally reinventing themselves is no longer optional. Every customer-facing system is going to need the best infrastructure, security, and stability for any business to survive and grow.

Securing Infrastructure Needs To Come First

COVID-19 was a wake-up call that companies need to operate as multi-channel players, allowing for physical but, more importantly, virtual presence. For instance, in retail, only those that will step up their efforts in building on-line ordering and associated nation-wide logistics networks will survive in the longer-term. If the cloud was considered an option in the past, it now is mandatory. In turn, the need for security has increased.

Starting with infrastructure, hybrid- and multi-cloud environments need to be augmented with additional system support, new apps, and greater security to support the always-on nature of competing in a virtual world. Providing self-service sales and support across any device at any time and keeping all systems synchronized is going to take more real-time integration, better security, more precise pricing, and so much more.

Consumer electronics manufacturers’ biggest challenge is reinventing their infrastructure while selling and serving customers at the same time. Part of their biggest challenge is protecting privileged access credentials that have become fragmented across hybrid- and multi-cloud environments. Everyone I’ve spoken with is balancing the urgent need for new revenue through new channels on the one hand with intensity to secure infrastructure and the most valuable security assets of all, privileged access credentials.

According to a 2019 study by Centrify among 1,000 IT decision-makers, 74% of respondents whose organizations have been breached acknowledged that it involved access to a privileged account. These are typically used by a small set of technical personnel to access the most critical systems in the IT estate, including modern technologies such as cloud, DevOps, microservices, and more. The CIO of a local financial services and insurance company, who is a former student and friend, told me that “it’s often said that privileged access credentials are the keys to the kingdom, and in these turbulent times they’re the keys to keeping any business running.”

CIOs, CISOs, and their teams are focusing on four key areas today while digitally reinventing themselves to provide more flexible options for customers:

  • Secure every new self-service selling and service channel from breaches.
  • Fast-track cloud projects to become 100% virtual and available.
  • Simplify infrastructure management by integrating IT and Operations Management across hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
  • Improve compliance reporting as well as reduce audit costs and associated fines.

Legacy Privileged Access Management (PAM) Can’t Scale For Today’s Threats

Sophisticated social engineering and breach attempts are succeeding in misdirecting human responses to cyber threats, gaining access to valuable privileged access credentials in the process. Legacy PAM systems based on vaulting away shared and root passwords aren’t designed to protect hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments. These DevOps systems include containers and microservices, APIs, machines, or services. Furthermore, multi-cloud environments create additional challenges because access management tools used for one vendor cannot be used with another.

Switching from in-person to self-service selling and service creates new challenges and an entirely new series of requirements for identity and access management. These requirements include securing a continually-increasing number of workloads that cause the amount of data in the cloud to grow exponentially. There’s also the need to centralize identities for consistent access controls across hybrid and multi-cloud environments – all happening while a business is busy digitally reinventing itself. Compounding all of these challenges is the need to excel at delivering an excellent user experience without sacrificing security in an increasingly self-service, always-on, 24/7 world.

Securing Privileged Access In A Post-COVID-19 World

If you’re looking for a sure sign any business will be around and growing in twelve months, look at how fast they are digitally reinventing themselves at the infrastructure level and protecting privileged access credentials first. Digital-first businesses are taking a more adaptive approach to consistently controlling access to hybrid infrastructure for both on-premises and remote users now.

Centrify and others are making rapid progress in this area, with Centrify’s Identity-Centric PAM taking a “never trust, always verify, enforce least privilege” approach to securing privileged identities. Centrify’s approach to Identity-Centric PAM establishes per-machine trust so it can defend itself from illegitimate users – whether human or machine  – or those without the right entitlements. It then grants least privilege access just-in-time based on verifying who is requesting access, the context of the request, and the risk of the access environment as is illustrated in the graphic below:

Protecting Privileged Identities In A Post-COVID-19 World

Conclusion

Improving customer experiences needs to be at the center of any digital transformation effort. As every business digitally transforms itself to survive and grow in a post-COVID-19 world out of necessity, they must also improve how they secure access to their cloud and on-premises infrastructure. Legacy PAM was designed for a time when all privileged access was constrained to resources inside the network, accessed by humans, using shared/root accounts.

Legacy PAM was not designed for cloud environments, DevOps, containers, or microservices. Furthermore, privileged access requesters are no longer limited to just humans, but also include machines, services, and APIs.

Privileged access requesters need greater agility, adaptability, and speed to support DevOps’ growing roadmap of self-service and increasingly safer apps and platforms. While privileged identities must be protected, DevOps teams need as much agility and speed as possible to innovate at the rapidly changing pace of how customers choose to buy in a post-COVID-19 world.

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