The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Category: Faces of GPS (page 2 of 6)

Project Management Certification or a Master’s Degree: Which Should You Get?

By Leanne Bateman

Leanne Bateman HeadshotAs the program chair of the Project & Program Management program at Brandeis GPS, one of the most frequent questions I have gotten over my 11 years at Brandeis University is this: Which is more important and valuable, Project Management Certification (Project Management Professional, or PMP) or a Master’s Degree in Project Management?

Honestly, the answer depends on what you want to accomplish in your career. The options are: work as a full-time Project Manager for a company, work as a project management consultant or just gain project management knowledge and experience in your non-project management related role.

If you’re primarily interested in working as a project management consultant—which involves either working through an agency on assignment at a company, or contracting directly with a company—then the Project Management Institute’s PMP certification is the first credential agencies and companies will expect. Coupling the PMP with Master’s Degree in Project Management will add tremendous value and distinguish you from other consultants/contractors. If your interest is to work as a full-time Project Manager for a company, then both credentials will help you get the job, but the Master’s degree is far more valuable and says much more about your commitment to your project management career. Similarly, if you’re currently a manager or employee interested in learning more about project management and integrating that discipline into your daily work, then once again, the Master’s degree is the way to go. And, your company may be able to contribute to your tuition.

The difference between the two credentials is this: PMP certification is a short-term study of the hard skills and knowledge needed to be a professional project manager, and this knowledge is validated through a 200-question exam that takes about four hours to complete. While there are requirements that must be fulfilled prior to taking the exam, they can be interpreted differently and unless the exam candidate is audited by PMI, the requirements may or may not be equal from candidate to candidate. Also, according to PMI, the number of PMPs has increased by 40,000-80,000 each year since 2009; this increase further dilutes the value of PMP certification.

With a Master’s Degree in Project Management, the value is greater on several levels:

  • First, because of the longer-term period of study over 10 graduate-level college courses, the breadth and depth of academic and experiential knowledge is more extensive. This knowledge covers not only the hard skills of project management but more importantly, the soft skills so critical for a successful project manager: leadership, communication, conflict resolution, influence, negotiation and team building.
  • Also, a Master’s degree in Project Management is more discerning to potential employers since few project managers have this credential.
  • Finally—and importantly—a graduate program whose faculty possess real-world experience as professional project managers is invaluable as they demonstrate the applicability of the hard and soft skills in actual projects and programs.

If one thing is certain in project management, it is that despite any earned credentials, practical experience is the most valuable credential of all. So, a Master’s Degree in Project Management taught by experienced faculty and demonstrated through practical coursework exercises is the next best thing to actually working as a professional project manager.

Leanne Bateman, MA, PMP, CSM, Six Sigma Green Belt, CIP is the program chair of the Project and Program Management program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies, and the Principal Consultant with Beacon Strategy Group, a Boston-based management firm specializing in project management services. Leanne has 20+ years of project management experience across the areas of health care, biotech/pharmaceuticals, information technology, high-tech manufacturing, human resources, construction, housing/real estate, government, and higher education. 

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Don’t wait to create social impact – just do it!

By Subhadra Mahanti

The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect upon how one has done in the past year. Personally, I go back a few years looking for a trajectory that evolves towards growth and meaningful impact-personal, professional or social. I feel a life well-spent is one that has created a ripple effect of positive change in the lives around.

During my undergraduate summer internships with Tata Steel and Tata Motors in India, I was introduced to Tata’s legacy of blending business with philanthropy. Though I was already involved in various community activities, that was the first time I witnessed how a business can positively impact communities by bringing together its products, processes and people. Both these internships opened my eyes to corporate citizenry. Tata’s mission of integrating social responsibility with corporate strategy resonated deeply within me.

Not long after, I joined MathWorks. Since then, I have come to truly appreciate MathWorks’ commitment to establish itself as a global corporate citizen through its Social Mission program. I first participated in this program in 2007. I was fundraising for AID (Association for India’s Development) while training for the upcoming Chicago marathon . With the help of individual contributions and company match, I was able to raise about $7000 in spite of being a new employee then. I have found myself increasingly involved ever since, be it through a-thon fundraisers, STEM initiatives, end-of-year donations or disaster relief. I continue to be impressed with the growing outreach of the company’s social impact initiatives. My most recent experience was during the Tamil Nadu flood relief efforts where in a matter of two weeks, we collected a total of $40,000 in company match and staff donations worldwide. This is an excellent testament to the organizational culture and behavior.

And when an entire organization gets involved in the betterment of its society, that in my mind is corporate social responsibility at its best. What better way to explore and expand one’s impact than by engaging through such immersive experiences! I feel privileged to have had such an opportunity. At the same time, I recognize that there is still much to learn and so many avenues to discover.

For those of you contemplating to start out on this journey, there is a plethora of resources out there. Some of my favorite reads are: Creating a world without Poverty by Muhammad Yunus (a link to Yunus’ interview on Knowledge@Wharton) and The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid by C. K. Prahlad.

Also, McKinsey Quarterly published the following articles on the topic that caught my attention: Valuing Corporate Social Responsibility and Making the most of corporate social responsibility. Another site that I follow is Social Edge: it has posts and comprehensive discussions about personal experiences with for-profit, non-profit and the hybrid models-the challenges and the advantages.

Foundations like Scwab and Skoll probably pioneered the concept of social enterprise but the world has caught up fast. Organizations like Ashoka and conferences like Net Impact bring together social entrepreneurs round the globe and promote access to social financing and social venture capital firms. Now even top business schools have dedicated programs and tracks on social impact and entrepreneurship. After all, social responsibility is not a choice anymore: It is a necessity to sustain in today’s competitive landscape.

Read the article as originally published here.

Subhadra Mahanti is  a member of the Brandeis GPS Software Engineering advisory board.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Technology Transformation for 2019

By Matthew Rosenquist

Digital technology continues to connect and enrich the lives of people all over the globe and is transforming the tools of everyday life, but there are risks accompanying the tremendous benefits. Entire markets are committed and reliant on digital tools. The entertainment, communications, socialization, and many others sectors are heavily intertwined with digital services and devices that society is readily consuming and embracing. More importantly, the normal downstream model for information has transformed into a bi-directional channel as individuals now represent a vast source of data, both in content as well as telemetry. These and many other factors align to accelerate our adoption and mold our expectations of how technology can make a better world.

This year’s Activate Tech & Media’s Outlook 2019 presentation provides a tremendous depth of insights in their slide deck (153 slides) with a great amount of supporting data. It highlights many of the growth sectors and emerging use-cases that will have profound impacts on our daily lives.

Transforming Tech IntelligenceWomen's face being scanned

We are moving from the first epoch of digitally connecting people, to the second epoch of making intelligent decisions through technology. Artificial Intelligence research is advancing and with it the infrastructure necessary to make it scalable across a multitude of applications. Solutions are just beginning to emerge and yet showing great promise to make sense and use the massive amounts of data being generated.

Overall, devices and services continue to evolve with more awareness and functionality. We are in the ramp of adding ‘smart’ to everything. Smart: cars, cities, homes, currency, cameras, social media, advertising, online-commerce, manufacturing, logistics, education, entertainment, government, weapons, etc. It will be the buzzword for 2019-2020.

Such transformation opens the door where tools can begin to anticipate and interweave with how people want to be helped. Better interaction, more services, and tailored use-cases will all fuel a richer experience and foster a deeper embrace into our lives. Technology will be indispensable.

Risks and OpportunitiesGears and numbers

Reliance in our everyday activities means we have the luxury of forgetting how to accomplish menial tasks. Who needs to remember phone numbers, read a map, operate a car, or know how to use a complex remote control. Soon, our technology will listen, guide, watch, autonomously operate, and anticipate our needs. Life will seem easier, but there will be exceptions.

All these smart use-cases will require massive data collection, aggregation, and processing which will drive a new computing infrastructure market. Such reliance, intimate knowledge, and automation will also create new risks.

The more we value and rely on something, the more indebted we are when it fails. We must never forget that technology is just a tool. It can be used for good or for malice. There will be threats, drawn to such value and opportunity, that will exploit our dependence and misuse these tools for their gain and to our detriment. At the point people are helpless without their intelligent devices, they become easy victims for attackers. As we have seen with data breaches over the past several years, when people are victimized, their outlook changes.

In this journey of innovation and usage, public sentiment is also changing across many different domains. The desire for Security, Privacy, and Safety (the hallmarks of Cybersecurity) continues to increase but may initially be in direct conflict for our desire to rapidly embrace new innovations. This creates tension. We all want new tech toys (it is okay to admit it)! Innovation can drive prosperity and more enjoyment in our lives. But there are trade offs. Having a device listen, record and analyze every word you say in your bedroom may be convenient in turning on the lights when you ask, but it may also inadvertently share all the personal activities going-on without your knowledge. A smart car effortlessly transporting you to work while you nap or surf the internet sounds downright dreamy but what if that same car is overtaken by a malicious attacker who wants to play out their Dukes of Hazzard fantasies. Not so much fun to think about.

In the end, we all want to embrace the wonderful benefits of new technology, but will demand the right levels of security, privacy, and safety.

Trust in TechnologyMan poking padlock

Unfortunately, trust in digital technology is only now becoming truly important. In the past, if our primary computing device (PC or phone) crashed, we breathed a small curse, rebooted and went on our way. We might have a dropped call or lost part of a work document, but not much more harm than that. That is all changing.

In the future, we will heavily rely on technology for transportation, healthcare, and critical infrastructure services. That autonomous car we expect not to crash, the implanted pacemaker or defibrillator we expect to keep us alive, or the clean water and electricity we expect to flow unhindered to our homes may be at risk of failure, causing unacceptable impacts. We want tech, but very soon people will realize they also need security, privacy, and safety to go along with it.

But how will that work? We don’t typically think of trust in terms of high granularity. We naturally generalize for such abstract thoughts. We don’t contemplate how trustworthy a tire, bumper, or airbag is, as those are too piecemeal, rather we trust the manufacturer of the car to do what is right for all the components that make up the vehicle we purchase. We want the final product, tied to a brand, to be trustworthy. For those companies that we trust, we tend to believe, whether correct or not, in all their products and services. This reinforces tremendous loyalty. The reverse is true as well. One misstep can become a reputational blight affecting sentiment across all a company’s offerings.

The saying “We earn trust in drips and lose it

in buckets” perfectly exemplifies the necessary

level of commitment.

Writing the word trustedTrust may become the new differentiator for companies that can deliver secure and safe products in a timely fashion. Those who are not trustworthy may quickly fall out of favor with consumers. Privacy is the first in many problems. Consumers, government regulators, and businesses are struggling to find a balance that must be struck between gathering data necessary for better experiences, but not too much that it becomes a detriment to the user. A difficult conundrum to overcome. Security and safety aspects will follow, where the potential risks grow even higher. The challenges are great, but so will the rewards for all those who succeed. I believe those companies which master these disciplines will earn long-term loyalty from their customers and enjoy a premium for their products.

2019 might be the first year where we witness this delineation as consumers may gravitate to more responsible companies and begin to shun those who have misplaced their trust. The big story for next year may in fact be how purchasing decisions for technology are changing, thus driving greater commitment to making products and services more security, private, and safe.

Interested in more insights, rants, industry news and experiences? Follow me on Steemit and LinkedIn for insights and what is going on in cybersecurity.

Read the article as originally published here.

Matthew Rosenquist is a member of the Brandeis GPS Information Security Leadership advisory board. He is a Cybersecurity Strategist for Intel Corp and benefits from 28 years in the field of security. He specializes in strategy, measuring value, and developing cost effective capabilities and organizations which deliver optimal levels of security. Matthew helped with the formation of the Intel Security Group, an industry leading organization bringing together security across hardware, firmware, software and services. An outspoken advocate of cybersecurity, he strives to advance the industry and his guidance can be heard at conferences, and found in whitepapers, articles, and blogs.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

When the Wrong Person Leads Cybersecurity

By Matthew Rosenquist

Succeeding at managing cybersecurity risks is tremendously difficult even for seasoned professionals. To make situations worse, poorly suited people are often chosen to lead security organizations, bringing about disastrous results. This has contributed to weaker risk postures for organizations and the rapid turnover in cybersecurity leadership.

I am unhappy to report that the industry has a pervasive problem that few want to discuss: a propensity to enlist inexperienced or unsuitable professionals to lead cybersecurity. It is time to change that caustic and enabling behavior by first recognizing the problem.

As an example, recently in the news, there was criticisms for someone appointed with the responsibility to lead the cybersecurity effort for the 2020 Olympics, but had never used a computer. How does someone who has never used a computer and has difficulty answering basic questions about USB drives, be tasked with building a cybersecurity program to protect the digital security, privacy, and safety for hundreds of thousands of people?

Downward Spirals

Sadly, I have seen similar situations play-out over and over again across academia, business, and government sectors. Far too often, poorly suited people are appointed such roles and it simply does not make sense. Let’s be clear, most are truly knowledgeable and accomplished in their primary field, but a transition to security is a significantly different domain. Engineering and product management executives focus mostly on static problems where there is a solution and desired end-state. Whereas in cybersecurity, we face a highly dynamic set of threat agents, people who are creative, intelligent, motivated, and dynamic, who will adapt to any solution. There is no permanent fix for cybersecurity as it is an ongoing competition to managing risks between defenders and attackers.

Human nature, overconfidence, and a lack of understanding the challenges begins to shape a counterproductive mindset. It is common for a professional from a different discipline, transplanted and put in charge of cybersecurity, to believe their prior expertise is equally applicable to the new challenges. Somehow, magically, they think they are as proficient and insightful at an adjacent domain as their previous profession. To those experienced in adversarial challenges who have seen this unfold, it is an affront to common sense. It is no surprise that such dangerous situations most often result in momentous failure.

For years, the turnover rate in cybersecurity leadership positions across the industry has been very high, with most Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) only lasting 2 to 4 years. When surveyed, CISO’s cite a lack of executive management support or insufficient budgets were the pervasive motivators. But that is only one side of the story as many CISO’s have been let go.

I have always been curious what C-suites and board had to say. When I ask company leaders about a change in cybersecurity leadership, I often hear that an outgoing CISO was ineffective, could not communicate risks well, and demanded significant budget increases every year yet the organization did not show a commensurate benefit. Events culminated when a severe incident occurred and then the C-suite or board chose to find a new security leader.

With the shortage of CISO’s in the industry, those displaced quickly find another company and continue their ‘training’. This musical-chairs routine does not serve the company or overall industry needs very well and simply transplants problems from one organization to another.

Masters of All

This mistake occurs regularly with technical personnel, probably as cybersecurity is generally characterized as a technology problem by the unacquainted. An accomplished engineer or architect is put in charge of security and now with ‘cybersecurity’ in front of their title they truly believe they are a risk expert. They are not. Being savvy in technology vulnerabilities and exploits is far different than understanding the massive breadth involved in managing risk. Most are unwilling to admit their shortsightedness in the breadth and depth of the challenges and their arrogance simply becomes a hinderance to seeking the needed help to be successful.

Ego can be such a major hindrance when the fear, of being perceived as not understanding a problem or knowing an answer, limits your actions. It is typical for a person in such a quandary to retreat back to familiar areas they know, resulting in defining the problem and solution only in the terms of technology. This ignores the behavioral, adversarial, and process aspects that are crucial to managing risk. With blinders on, they continue to push forward regardless, thus the car wreck begins.

Cybersecurity is more than just a ‘tech’ problem and will never be ‘solved’ with technology alone (two pervasive misconceptions from engineers first joining cybersecurity). They are likely doomed. I have seen this happen countless times and can spot it a mile away. It is like an automobile accident happening in slow motion with an overconfident driver continuing to push forward as metal bends and glass shatters.

Enlarged Version of Cybersecurity Domains

Part of the issue is that people, who are experts in one field, assume they understand the entire problem set in another adjacent but ambiguous field. It is not until they are in the new role, that they then experience the unforeseen challenges of a different world.

Imagine a hospital. Would you promote the engineer who developed a defibrillation tool to be an emergency room doctor? No. Although tools and technology play a crucial role in medicine, it is not the same as predicting, preventing, detecting, and responding to health risks for patients across their lifespan. The same applies in cybersecurity. Technology is the battlefield, not the war. Understanding the terrain is important, but must be combined with a keen assessment of your opponents, and the ability to operationally maneuver in advantageous ways.

This is true in other fields as well. Aeronautical engineers aren’t promoted to fighter pilots and textbook publishers aren’t necessarily good grade school principals, so why do organizations make the mistake of a taking a software engineer or business-line product manager and expect them to be successful in leading cybersecurity?

Two Scenarios: Vastly Different Chances for Success

Now, I did say this is a recipe for failure most of the time. There are some, very rare situations, where an insightful but inexperienced person takes a cybersecurity leadership role and succeeds. It is possible. I have only seen it a handful of times and in every case that person was realistic about their knowledge and checked their ego at the door.

Guaranteed Failure:

An engineer, project manager, or business executive is put in charge of cybersecurity. They are confused or intimidated by security practitioners in their organization and respond by immediately surrounding themselves with like-minded, yet similarly security inexperienced people. They add other engineers, marketing, and legal people to their core echelon, inadvertently creating a self-reinforcing ineffective group-think team. Congratulations, an inexperienced leader has just encircled themselves with a cushion of people who don’t have the knowledge to challenge poor directives or independently deliver sustainable success. If you wonder what conversations with them are like, take a look at the Dilbert cartoon, specifically the ‘manager’ character. That is pretty close. Funny from afar, but frustrating up close.

Ineffectual organizations tend to grow fast, spend a lot of money, make hollow promises, tell a story of difficult times that are turning around, but have no real strategic plan, prioritized goals, or clearly defined scope with organizational roles and responsibilities. They seek non-existent cure-all solutions, and their long-term stratagem is to hope nothing bad happens while they battle daily issues. Even worse, the proficient security personnel, that may have been part of the team, will likely leave such a caustic environment for a better employer. That breaks my heart when I see capable people who want to make a difference, driven away. When quality employees begin jumping-ship en-masse, it is a sure warning sign.

The easiest way to detect this situation early on, is to look at their metrics, or lack thereof. If a security organization operates without the benefit of tangible metrics, it is a likely sign they have not defined or are not tracking against goals, roles, objectives, and probably aren’t measuring or tracking risk. What they are doing is responding to issues, self-marketing, rapidly growing the team, consuming significant resources, slowing down the business, and the looking for people to blame when their ineffectiveness becomes apparent. These orgs don’t last. They implode. People quickly leave and executive oversight will soon look past the whitewash to cut budgets, headcount, and eventually replace the leaders.

Potential for Success:

An engineer, project manager, or business executive is put in charge of cybersecurity. They understand they are not a security expert, so they assemble a team who has experience and talent in protecting digital assets, understanding threats, can articulate risks, and are intimate with the technology in use. They build an organization structure that is comprised of operations, engineering, and risk intelligence teams. Then listen and learn. Great leaders bring in the best people and let them excel. They quickly get clarification on the business goals and expectations from executives and customers. They then identify prioritized objectives, define a scope, derive the supporting measurable goals, identify areas in need of immediate attention, and establish the measures & metrics necessary to track progress.

Governance issues are addressed and a strategic process capability is embedded to constantly improve the organizations risk management ability to predict, prevent, detect, and respond to threats. They establish both the tactical plans necessary for immediate survival and day-to-day management, but also define a long-term directional strategy that takes into account the ever-evolving threat landscape, technology changes, and shifting expectations for security, privacy, and safety.

Proficient security workers thrive in such organizations and rarely leave. With a strong plan and capable team in place, leaders can effectively communicate and advocate across the organization. If all of these elements land in place, with the proper support, even an inexperienced security leader can have a chance at success.

Unfortunately, it rarely happens.

Failure is Expensive

Cybersecurity is difficult. It becomes exponentially more problematic when someone who lacks the necessary mentality or skills comes in and makes it profoundly worse. Cleaning up an ineffective legacy security program is painful, expensive, and time consuming. Simultaneously, a poor risk posture opens the door to more attacks and greater impacts until a capable security program is instituted.

We must understand that cybersecurity, like many other highly specialized roles, requires a depth of insight and experience to lead. I will echo Sun Tzu’s “…do what is great while it is small” and recommend putting a good leader in place the first time to build an effective and sustainable cybersecurity organization.

Let’s all break the silence and openly discuss the cycle of poor cybersecurity leadership, for everyone’s benefit.

For more insights on the challenges and required strategic deliverables, read my post Cybersecurity Fails Without Strategy.

Interested in more insights, rants, industry news and experiences? Follow me on Steemit and LinkedIn for insights and what is going on in cybersecurity.

Read the article as originally published here.

Matthew Rosenquist is a member of the Brandeis GPS Information Security Leadership advisory board. He is a Cybersecurity Strategist for Intel Corp and benefits from 28 years in the field of security. He specializes in strategy, measuring value, and developing cost effective capabilities and organizations which deliver optimal levels of security. Matthew helped with the formation of the Intel Security Group, an industry leading organization bringing together security across hardware, firmware, software and services. An outspoken advocate of cybersecurity, he strives to advance the industry and his guidance can be heard at conferences, and found in whitepapers, articles, and blogs.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Governance and the case for bringing cybersecurity out of IT

By Joseph Dalessandro

October is National Cyber Awareness Month, and we’ll be spotlighting cybersecurity content on the blog all month long.

Information security governance is perhaps the most challenging aspect of cybersecurity.

Governance, while not a four-letter word, is often discussed with the same grumble that one uses when speaking about the dentist or aged fish. The basics of governance revolves around the advancement that simple accountability and transparency deters calamity. One cannot predict and avoid all disasters — think volcano here — but at the same time, one cannot grade one’s own homework.

It works well until there is a real test and someone else has the red pen. I think it was the queen of corporate governance, Nell Minow, who said, “watched boards change.” I agree, and would say this observation can be applied all the way down the corporate chain into an organization: those that change are the ones who are watched as objectively as possible.

So what does this have to do with cybersecurity, and why is governance hard in the cybersecurity space? There are a number of reasons for this perception. First, boards have been bamboozled by jargon and an IT executive tier that has been unclear and unsure of what and how to report on security. (For those of you on boards, when was the last time you had a security executive discuss the direct link between spend and the measured reduction of risk?). Indeed, in a Bay Dynamics/Osterman Research survey, “the majority (85%) of board members
believe that IT
and security executives need to improve the way they report to the board.”

While I am not a fan of standards for standards’ sake, the ISO/IEC 38500:2008 Corporate governance of information technology has the following useful definitions:

  • Corporate governance: The system by which organizations are directed and controlled.
  • Corporate governance of IT: The system by which the current and future use of IT is directed and controlled. Corporate governance of IT involves evaluating and directing the use of IT to support the organization and monitoring this use to achieve plans. It includes the strategy and policies for using IT within an organization.
  • Management: The system of controls and processes required to achieve the strategic objectives set by the organization’s governing body. Management is subject to the policy guidance and monitoring set through corporate governance.

Security leaders should tack these definitions to their wall.

When it comes to how security leaders can set the right direction for the board and make sure the Board has the right information for strategic oversight, I think it is a “two-way street.” Boards need to come to the security business and ask questions and security leaders need to come to the Board with improved reporting. Perhaps an improvement would be an approach that keeps the security report separate and distinct from that of technology. For organizations where information security, or cybersecurity, does not report to IT— bravo! You have taken a step toward greater transparency. The inherent mission of IT is accessibility and availability and the inherent mission of security is possession (control), protection and integrity. These missions are often in conflict, and managing them under the same leader (often a technology leader), could result in a Head of Security who does not have the chance to challenge or push back against the IT Executive who writes their performance assessment and controls their compensation.

We can better coordinate, manage and govern our complete security capabilities by bringing cybersecurity out of IT and taking a more holistic approach to incorporating physical and facility security, fraud and loss mitigation, and the other components converging security capabilities, data collection, management, and ultimately governance.

An organization’s board and business management must be in alignment where spend and the use of emerging technology are converging for the business. Security leaders should consider the following approach to champion governance:

  1. Above all, be transparent and accountable. Don’t tell the board what they want to hear or what you think they want to hear (they know when they are being managed). Represent the security program objectively. Characterize how security investments support the delivery of value for the business and supports organizational objectives.
  2. Do the hard work to consistently measure, monitor and report on security risk, and to provide the analysis between security investments and the execution to mitigate or manage risk and reduce or limit potential impact.
  3. Share performance and achievements of security resources — these drive the execution of a program and they are where the rubber meets the road for execution of the security program. Just like other business function, people are what drive success for a security program.
  4. Demonstrate how cybersecurity is aligned with and supports the strategic planning and objectives of the business and the expected business outcomes. Often the inherent conflict between the IT mantra of constant access and availability will be in conflict with cybersecurity’s mission of possession, protection and integrity, but the two do not have to be contentious, but IT needs a peer who can hold IT accountable if needed, not a lackey who does what they are told.

Joseph (Joe) Dalessandro is the program chair of the Information Security Leadership program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies, and the Head of Security & Technology Audit and Audit Data Analytics, Australian Unity.

Brandeis GPS offers a Master’s of Science in Information Security Leadership. The part-time, fully online program prepares graduates for leadership roles in information security with a cutting-edge, industry relevant curriculum that builds leadership savvy and skill in leveraging technical know-how. For more information, contact gps@brandeis.edu, call 781-736-8787 or visit www.brandeis.edu/gps.

Faces of GPS: Meet Kathryn Wight – Director of Partnership Engagement

Did you know that Brandeis GPS helps companies develop stronger workforce pipelines?

Kathryn Wight Headshot

As Director of Partnership Engagement, Kathryn works with employers to understand their organizational needs and determine opportunities for Brandeis GPS to help upscale their employees. These corporate partnerships provide tuition scholarships and/or trainings and continual conversation around educational support.

Born and raised in Carlisle, MA, Kathryn received her degree in psychology and criminal justice from North Carolina’s Elon University. Upon graduation, she chose to remain in the south for a while. After spending some time working as a paralegal, she decided not to pursue a law career and made her way to higher education. 

Kathryn spent eight years at The College of William & Mary before her New England homecoming. She first served as the recruitment manager for the school’s undergraduate career center, working with employers to schedule their on-campus visits and planning career fairs. From there, she spent a few years counseling Master of Accounting students and managing employer relations for all master level programs in the Raymond A. Mason School of Business.

In her role at GPS, Kathryn focuses on helping companies envision how an educational partnership with Brandeis can help cultivate a strong employee benefits program. She finds meaning in building personal connections with partners and gaining a better understanding of how GPS programs and courses can help fill the unique needs of each organization she works with.

Kathryn’s favorite part of her job is all the people she gets to meet and learn about companies from startups to large Fortune 500 firms.

Outside the office, Kathryn is a runner who likes to travel and explore different food and wine cultures. She is currently planning a wedding (that is now less than six months away). She is also a dog lover and enjoys spending time with her five-year-old niece. 

Learn more about our corporate partnership options on our website or contact Kathryn Wight at kwight@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8725.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Security and the Internet of Things

By Joseph Dalessandro

October is National Cyber Awareness Month, and we’ll be spotlighting cybersecurity content on the blog all month long.

Love it or despise it, the Internet of Things (IoT) has forever altered human thinking and interaction. Increased telemetry from our bodies through wearable tech and app analysis of data about our health and personal space has led to discovery, identification and interactions with others through apps and smart devices that is the new norm. How will this explosion of devices change our mission objective as security leaders and professionals?

The term IoT is generally applied to “endpoint” objects such as devices, wearables, cameras, chips, toys, and other objects that can be accessed through a connection such as WiFi or other carrier signals and interacted with via the internet. Examples that have become pervasive would be FitBit wearable’s, iWatches, Alexa or Google Home devices, Nest thermostats, and medical devices such as insulin pumps. While these devices are limited in capability, often just one or two functions or a binary state of on/off, the numbers of devices and the absence of uniform minimum security standards from manufacturers present a problem (several actually) for our IT departments Infrastructure management and security professional.

We can easily find statistics about the number of devices that have emerged in earnest since 2008. The 2017 Cisco Visual Networking Index provides a comprehensive view of some of those numbers. Two of my favorite highlights from this report include:

  • There will be 3.5 networked devices per capita by 2021 (global population 7.875 times 3.5)
  • IP traffic in North America will reach 85 EB per month by 2021 (And North America will not be the highest trafficked global region)

While I am not sure where that bandwidth comes from (I cannot get great consistently streaming bandwidth for Netflix sometimes), what worries me more is patching, tracking and controlling devices. Now, I am not suggesting we control all devices, but I need to control the ones that are on my network because they will increase the potential surface of attack for our networks by orders of magnitude. The more devices you add, outside of implemented and effective controls, the quicker your organization will suffer a breach. Therefore, if you don’t get roles such as patching right you will be lost under the crushing weight of IoT adoption rates. We have to get the “basics” right to ensure we have a foundation capable of integrating IoT devices. We will also need to assess risk and device configuration and a number of other areas we will not venture into here.

In the world of cyber security, people and data are what we most are accustomed to thinking about protecting and defending against. How do we wrap our heads around the potential problems of IoT where the numbers are so much higher? I would submit that we undertake the following approach:

  1. Get the basics right. There will be a lot of debate about what “get the basics right” means but at a high level, I am referring to:
  • Have a comprehensive security program based on risk, with regular assessments
  • Identify where all your data is located and ensure it is appropriately categorized
  • User access, and privileged access, is controlled and re-certified (access for IoT devices as well)
  • Network traffic is premeditated and segmented and network information is logged and monitored (must also scale)
  • Systems management has KPI’s and documented configuration baselines or employs a CMDB
  • Change Management and patching are religiously observed and followed
  • There is a formal incident management/response process (and adjust and augment IR for IoT)
  • There is a crisis and contingency management plan that is tested and updated annually

Yup, that was just step 1. Get all this right and you can start to think about being able to control IoT in your ecosystem.

2. Determine the level of increased risk, or changed risk, related to data loss or breach from #3.

3. Augment your information management or data governance policies and processes to encompass IoT increased data creation and interaction.

4. Determine the physical limits or extensions of IoT devices. Can users outside your physical location use devices or access devices inside your physical location? Do you need to limit (or attempt to limit) the carrier signal outside your four walls?

5. Hire a competent and qualified leader to bridge between security and IT. Brandeis Information Security Leadership graduates are great candidates.

IoT is a big problem that can seem overwhelming, where unpatched devices can increase your threat surface by orders of magnitude. Remember, getting the basics right will see you treating IoT with the same risk strategy that has allowed you to manage technology risk.

Joseph (Joe) Dalessandro is the program chair of the Information Security Leadership program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies, and the Head of Security & Technology Audit and Audit Data Analytics, Australian Unity.

Brandeis GPS offers a Master’s of Science in Information Security Leadership. The part-time, fully online program prepares graduates for leadership roles in information security with a cutting-edge, industry relevant curriculum that builds leadership savvy and skill in leveraging technical know-how. For more information, contact gps@brandeis.edu, call 781-736-8787 or visit www.brandeis.edu/gps.

Image source: https://www.personneltoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2015/06/wearable-tech-wearable-technology.jpg

Information Security has the perfect mindset to facilitate decision-support red teaming

By Joseph Dalessandro

October is National Cyber Awareness Month, and we’ll be spotlighting cybersecurity content on the blog all month long.

We hear the term “red team” liberally used these days, applied in the security space for both force-on-force scenario testing (subverting hardened facilities and assets) and in the information security space, primarily referring to “white hat” hacking to assess security posture for systems, devices, network perimeters and web applications.

A “red teamer” in the decision support or strategic space is formally trained and uses critical thinking tools and techniques to provoke analysis, stress test strategies, plans and perspectives. At the heart of this work is the modeling or reframing of the problem space from the adversaries perspective.  Red teamers and Security Pros are by nature contrarians, and it is this contrarian mindset we want to capitalize on.

While cybersecurity “red teaming” as penetration testing is vital to an organization’s testing of its security and data protection posture, it has a narrow scope. However, everyone these days in this space wants to refer to his or her work as red teaming. The practice of decision support red teaming is the area that I am submitting an organization can immediately benefit from and are not currently employing. This is an area where your security team can add value by adopting the tools and techniques to facilitate red teaming. Information security professionals are diverse thinkers and often “see” across the entire enterprise. Equipping them with red team tools and techniques can enhance their value in guiding the organization to make better decisions.

Red teaming and the value of a premortem

So how do we do it?  How do we immediately capitalize on our existing stance as contrarians to serve as strategic red teamers? There are a number of available tools such as the U.S.Army’s Applied Critical Thinking Handbook, and Bryce Hoffman’s Red Teaming. We start with, most importantly, is buy-in and genuine support from the top of the organization, and the admission that we will trust our decision to conduct red team analysis and we will be true to the results. There are a number of short tools to use to try this, one of the most straightforward is to have your security staff conduct a premortem on your most important security project for the upcoming year.

The basic approach of the premortem is to visualize, prospectively, about the project failing and using this to illuminate the cause(s) of the failure.  This is not a risk assessment. We are not speculating on what could harm our project, we are identifying what actually caused the failure. This is pathology; we are engaged in diagnosis, not prognosis. Supplies needed are easy to acquire, you will need paper or index cards and pens/pencils and a white board or projector.

  • The leader (security staff facilitator) level sets with the group by reading out the summary from the business case or a summarized version of the project. The leader tells everybody that they should assume that their team, the project team, has made the decision to go forward and that the project has gone forward and has concluded. We are in the future now, a year into the future, and the project has been an utter failure. It has crashed and burned with no redeeming outcome or benefit.
  • Exercise: Each player (project team member) takes the paper in front of him/her and writes a brief narrative or cause of the failure. Take 5 minutes and work in silence.
  • The facilitator collects the paper or cards and generates a list of all the points on a whiteboard or projector. The facilitator can now work with the group to solicit further failure ideas, inspired by the list.
  • Engage in a game to further determine the top five causes for the failure. [A practical note here: if you conduct a premortem and determine a set of failures that are agreed universally by the group as being actual failures, you have a fundamental problem with your project. Stop it immediately and take a step back and rethink the plan.]

Red teaming is best conducted with as diverse a group as possible, and often times those who have had the least to do with the project plan formation can provide insights into points of failure. As you look to expand your tool set in the future, a master’s degree in security leadership can help engender this contrarian mindset and improve the value of security in your organization.

Joseph (Joe) Dalessandro is the program chair of the Information Security Leadership program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies, and the Head of Security & Technology Audit and Audit Data Analytics, Australian Unity.

Brandeis GPS offers a Master’s of Science in Information Security Leadership. The part-time, fully online program prepares graduates for leadership roles in information security with a cutting-edge, industry relevant curriculum that builds leadership savvy and skill in leveraging technical know-how. For more information, contact gps@brandeis.edu, call 781-736-8787 or visit www.brandeis.edu/gps

Image source: LeadX.org

Meet our newest GPS faculty members

The first week of the October session is here and we are excited to introduce the newest Brandeis GPS faculty members. These industry leaders come to Brandeis GPS with expertise and established networks within their fields. We have no doubt that the knowledge and experience they bring will provide for meaningful learning opportunities in the online classroom.

Garrett Gillin – RDMD 110: Principals of Search Engine Marketing

Garret Gillin Headshot

Garrett Gillin, MBA, is a co-founder and Principal at 215 Marketing, a Google Premier Partner agency located in Philadelphia, PA, where he oversees the development and execution of integrated digital marketing initiatives with a concentration on programmatic advertising, marketing automation, and advanced analytics.

Todd Chapin – RUCD 185: Design for Non-screen User Experiences

Todd Chapin HeadshotTodd Chapin is a co-founder and Chief Product Officer at ShopClerk.ai. He has experience in product management and UX, as well as expertise in personal mobility, speech recognition, and e-commerce. He has worked at Zipcar, Audible, and Nuance Communications. He has graduate and undergraduate degrees in Human Factors Engineering from Tufts University.

Ernest Green – RSAN 160: Predictive Analytics

Ernest Green Headshot

Ernest Green MS, MBA, PMP, is Vice President of Data Mining at a large financial institution in Dallas, TX. Prior to this role, he worked as a Data Scientist with General Motors and has 10+ years of diverse analytics experience. He holds multiple college degrees and most recently completed a Master’s in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. His research and expertise are in analytics, machine learning, natural language processing and artificial intelligence.

We are so pleased to welcome these new faculty members to Brandeis GPS and look forward to seeing how they bring their expertise to their online classrooms.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Brandeis graduate student publishes new book on AI and Robotics

We are excited to announce that Brandeis Project and Program Management student, Francis Govers, recently published a book, Artificial Intelligence for Robotics. Govers provided us with the following description:

Artificial Intelligence for Robotics starts with an introduction to Robot Operating Systems (ROS), Python, robotic fundamentals, and the software and tools that are required to start out with robotics. You will learn robotics concepts that will be useful for making decisions, along with basic navigation skills.

As you make your way through the chapters, you will learn about object recognition and genetic algorithms, which will teach your robot to identify and pick up an irregular object. With plenty of use cases throughout, you will explore natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning techniques to further enhance your robot. In the concluding chapters, you will learn about path planning and goal-oriented programming, which will help your robot prioritize tasks.

By the end of this book, you will have learned to give your robot an artificial personality using simulated intelligence.

What you will learn

  • Get started with robotics and artificial intelligence
  • Apply simulation techniques to give your robot an artificial personality
  • Understand object recognition using neural networks and supervised learning techniques
  • Pick up objects using genetic algorithms for manipulation
  • Teach your robot to listen using NLP via an expert system
  • Use machine learning and computer vision to teach your robot how to avoid obstacles
  • Understand path planning, decision trees, and search algorithms in order to enhance your robot

Francis Govers’s paperback and e-book can be found on Amazon here.

For software engineers seeking to develop an advanced set of robotics technology skills, Brandeis GPS offers an MS in Robotic Software Engineering. For more information about the part-time, fully online program, contact the  GPS office: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu, or submit your information.

« Older posts Newer posts »

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)