In memoriam: Steven Young, respected CISO and former Cybersecurity Collaborative VP

Steven Young, a respected figure in the cybersecurity industry, died unexpectedly this week, leaving behind a legacy as a CISO who made a difference across industries.

Parham Eftekhari, EVP of Communities at CyberRisk Alliance, parent company of SC Media, has fond memories of working with Young from June 2018 to November 2020, when Young was the Cybersecurity Collaborative’s VP of content and task forces.

“Steve was one of our first content leaders at the Cybersecurity Collaborative and helped build the foundation for the organization we are today,” Eftekhari said. “I’ll always remember his kindness, empathy, wit, and passion for our profession. Sending our deepest sympathies to Steve’s family, friends, and colleagues on behalf of CyberRisk Alliance and our entire community.”

As VP and CISO of Advantage Solutions, Cybersecurity Collaborative, Blue Shield of California, and Kellogg’s, he not only fortified the digital fortresses of these esteemed organizations but also set new standards for excellence in the field.

Throughout his career, Young was considered more than just a CISO; he was a visionary leader who anticipated the evolving landscape of cyber threats and spearheaded proactive measures to safeguard critical assets. His expertise and strategic foresight earned him recognition as one of the country's Top 10 and Top 5 CISOs in 2013 and 2016, cementing his status as a luminary in the cybersecurity domain.

He was regularly featured in prestigious publications such as Fortune and The Wall Street Journal, where his insights focused on the complex interplay between technology, business, and security. His ability to align cybersecurity initiatives with overarching business objectives underscored his proficiency not only in mitigating risks but also in driving tangible value for organizations.

With a career spanning global IT leadership, business partner engagement, and vendor management, Young navigated complex landscapes with finesse. Under his stewardship, global IT and security organizations flourished and he was entrusted with budgets exceeding $80 million.

His impact extended beyond boardrooms and executive suites. He fostered a culture of excellence, attracting and retaining top-tier talent capable of delivering world-class solutions and providing unparalleled global operational support. His mentorship and guidance served as beacons of inspiration, shaping the next generation of cybersecurity professionals and leaving an indelible mark on the industry.

Scott Lott, a senior security engineer with Advantage Solutions, worked closely with Young in the last couple of years:

"Steven was always overflowing with empathy, love and generosity," he said.  "He was always working to benefit those around him.  Every meeting, every conversation, every person's life he touched was left better because of it.  I watched him on more than one occasion walk into a meeting that had begun very hostile and completely turned it around with everyone laughing and joking.  I've never seen someone care so much about their team."

Young was constantly working to help people grow in their careers and create a safe environment they could thrive in, Lott said, adding, "I don't know if I'll ever find someone I looked up to as much as Steven.  He was the sincere embodiment of so many things we all want to be."

Malcolm Harkins, chief security and trust officer at HiddenLayer and a member of the CyberRisk Alliance board of directors, worked with Young over the years and noted how Young built his record of accomplishment despite health challenges stemming from accidents he had experienced over the years, including a broken back he suffered the day he was to give a presentation to his board. He gave the presentation anyway, then went to the hospital.

"He had more tenacity and toughness to persevere than anyone I have ever met," Harkins said.

Bill Brenner

InfoSec content strategist, researcher, director, tech writer, blogger and community builder. Senior Vice President of Audience Content Strategy at CyberRisk Alliance.

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