Siemens USA CISO: 3 essentials to look for in a cloud provider

In the latest episode of my series, The Shiproom, I spoke with Kurt John, Chief Cybersecurity Officer (CISO) at Siemens USA. Kurt is listed in Security Magazine’s Top 10 most influential cybersecurity leaders, and he also serves on a special cybersecurity committee organized by the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

As CISO for Siemens USA, Kurt describes his job as “leveraging cybersecurity through our value chain to protect the trust society has in us to solve the world’s most complex problems.” Siemens has embraced industry 4.0 and IoT, leading the way in automation for operational technology (OT). The company has been operating in the United States for 160 years and today has 50,000 employees. The responsibility to protect all the people, devices, and intellectual property (IP) rests on Kurt’s shoulders.

“I think movement to the cloud is inevitable,” Kurt tells me in our discussion. “It’s just way too cost-effective. You can scale quickly. But not all cloud providers are created equal.” According to Kurt, a good cloud provider should deliver three things: flexibility, control, and visibility. “You need to have your eyes on everything happening in the cloud. Whether it’s changing business conditions or a threat from an adversary; you need to be able to adjust.”

At one point, a scientist from the future interrupts our conversation (you had to be there) to ask Kurt about the challenges of balancing on-premises data vs. cloud storage: “You want the relationship between the cloud and the enterprise to be as seamless as possible,” Kurt replies. “What’s most important—how well does the cloud provider deploy security controls? I need to be able to wrap my hands around any incident through good protection and detective mechanisms, and good reporting.”

We also touched on how a diverse security team offers better protection against today’s diverse cyber threats. “Diversity in the team immediately skyrockets creativity. With a team that’s physically and cognitively diverse. It’s a wonder what we can accomplish together.”

Talking about building a strong security team lead to how mentorship can play a role, Kurt himself mentors college students who are considering a career in tech. “There’s a myth that working in cybersecurity requires you to be incredibly technical. That’s just not the case. Cybersecurity is as big as you make it.”

Watch the whole discussion on The Shiproom: Siemens USA.

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