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Montreal ‘Strategic Insights’ session puts IT security under the microscope

The IT Media Group (ITMG) hosted a diverse group of senior IT and security executives from the private and public sectors on November 20 at W Montreal, one of the city’s trendiest hotels. A dozen leading brands from a variety of industries were represented in this very engaging ‘Strategic Insights’ session.

John Pickett, popular IT media personality and Head of CIO Programs for ITMG, chaired the Tonight Show-style discussion, interviewing three security experts on a variety of issues related to ‘Securing Information in an Unsecure World’. The event was sponsored by Symantec Canada.

Neils Johnson, a global technology evangelist for Symantec, not only informed the audience but also entertained them as he shared his vast knowledge of security issues, gleaned over his 19-year career with the company.

A perfect complement to Johnson’s global perspective were the insights of Canada-based panelists Matt Broda and Sebastien Lapointe. Broda, a Technical Fellow – Security with Bell Canada, is a visionary leader and strategist who has championed various initiatives in the security industry globally. Lapointe, Information Security Officer at National Bank of Canada, has been a security consultant with Desjardins, IBM Global Services and CGI, and is a cofounder of Cyberaction Youth Canada, which educates young people and parents around issues related to the use of new information and communications technologies.

The discussion touched on many key areas of IT security, including: the future threatscape and how to prepare for it; security and privacy in the Cloud; selling security to corporate leadership; testing your defences; and how much security is enough?

Johnson had some cautionary words for the audience. “It’s not going to get any better than it is today,” he said. “A lot of money is being invested in developing malware.”

He added that the focus can no longer be on the infrastructure; it has to be on the information moving through it. “All data in the clear is vulnerable,” he asserted. “Information that cannot be exposed must be encrypted.” But even at that, he warned that encryption will become a thing of the past in the not too distant future. The NSA, he said, is attempting to develop a supercomputer capable of brute-force decrypting anything.

Lapointe said it is important to develop a security culture in your organization. “Make sure you get your clientele’s attention. And make sure you listen to them – don’t just restrict them,” he said.

“You have to make the business your partner,” he added. “The business needs to give you an indication of the level of risk they can tolerate. And they should be the owner of that risk.”

Matt Broda offered some insights around the service provider landscape in Canada with respect to security. “In Europe and the U.S. more and more service providers are getting into the business of identifying customers who have been infected and helping them remediate. More and more features are being provided that will either anonymize traffic or protect customer traffic,” he said.

“In Canada we haven’t gotten to that point yet. There are technical and regulatory battles that are happening right now. There are privacy issues whereby we can act on information only to a certain extent. But there is active work happening in Canada from a policy perspective to enable the service providers to be in a better position to protect customers.

“At Bell, we play an active role in protecting our customers by providing improved situational awareness and deploying cyber-security defences in our network aimed at stopping threats before they reach our customers’ networks,” Broda added. “We are actively working on bringing these services to market and are supporting joint public-private sector discussions to enable improved cyber security in Canada.”

With the audience expressing unanimous interest in attending future IT Media Group events in Montreal, plans are already under way for a return visit early in 2015.

About The IT Media Group
The IT Media Group serves the IT industry by creating great events, resources and connections for CIOs. Our leadership team includes media personalities John Pickett and Dave Carey, who have been high-profile supporters and champions of the Canadian CIO community for two decades, and Nasheen Liu, a marketing expert with a wealth of experience in first-tier IT firms.

 

 

 

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