Blackstone CISO's remediation plan: Fix everything

In an environment in which cyber professionals are overwhelmed by rapidly changing security threats, industry pros generally agree that a remediation plan must involve difficult decisions.
In an environment in which cyber professionals are overwhelmed by rapidly changing security threats, industry pros generally agree that a remediation plan must involve difficult decisions.

In an environment in which cyber professionals are overwhelmed by rapidly changing security threats, industry pros generally agree that a remediation plan must involve difficult decisions about the security issues that companies are willing to accept the risk rather than take action. You cannot fix everything, the sentiment goes.

Private-equity giant The Blackstone Group takes a different approach, said Jay Leek, the firm's CISO, at a cybersecurity conference on Wednesday. During a session at Check Point's Cyber Day conference in New York City, Leek said the firm has focused on methodically responding to all threats that it detects. This approach allowed Blackstone to achieve a 90-93 percent reduction in the number of compromised systems year-to-year.

Responding to everything is difficult, Leek said. He recommended establishing protocols for confronting threats systematically. “You can't do it all at once,” he said. “But you will keep getting better.”

Blackstone has invested heavily in the cybersecurity sector. Blackstone's interest in cyber, and that of other private equity investors, has contributed to high valuations of cyber startups in the past few years.

In September, the firm invested along with venture-capital investor TechOperators in Phantom Cyber Corp.'s $6.5 million funding round. In July, Blackstone participated in the $42 million Series C round of funding for Cylance, a threat protection firm. In March, the firm invested an undisclosed amount in RedOwl Analytics, an insider-risk detection and IP loss detection company.

In March 2014, Blackstone said it would acquire a control stake in Accuvant, and then in November 2014, backed a merger between Accuvant and FishNet Security. Blackstone owns a majority stake in the new company, Optiv Security. The firm also made minority investments in Carbon Black / Bit9, iSIGHT Partners, WatchDox, and Secure Mentem.

Leek told attendees he takes a business-first approach to security. “If you can find out what your security multiplier is,” he said, “it is going to earn you a seat at the table.”

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