BIRMINGHAM – Over the last few decades, I’ve had my fair share of adventures. I’ve traveled to the farthest corners of the world – from South Africa to Iceland to Malta to Malaysia to Australia to Estonia. I was one of the first analysts at Gartner to cover the burgeoning IT security industry. I performed stress analysis on one of the first Single Stage to Orbit rockets that Gary Hudson proposed back in the early ‘80s. I’ve gone back to school and watched five out of six children graduate from college with the 6th well on her way. I’ve even written three books – with my latest one, There Will Be Cyberwar, earning a spot on the Washington Post bestseller list this past April. 

Now it’s time to embark on my next adventure. As of July 1st, I have officially joined Blancco Technology Group as its first-ever Chief Strategy Officer. In this newly created leadership role, I will be leading long-term strategic planning, product positioning, public affairs, analyst relations, joint ventures and industry partnerships. I’m really excited to take on this role for many reasons.

I’ve always been enthralled by the idea of data destruction. It’s the final act in any data lifecycle management plan. But the majority of businesses spend their time, resources, budgets and strategic focus on protecting their corporate, employee and customer data from ‘dangerous’ security threats like malicious intrusions, hacked interfaces, exploited system vulnerabilities, advanced persistent threats and DoS attacks. So many network security, endpoint security and encryption software providers exist today to address these security threats.

But what about when, where and how data needs to be securely erased? How much do businesses know about this? Not much, it turns out. And given how little companies allocate of their time, budgets and resources towards data removal, I’m keen to help change this landscape and educate businesses on how to think about data and devices across the entire lifecycle and ultimately, show them why data removal needs to move up on their list of IT security priorities. The best way to show the urgent need for and value of secure data removal is through educational content, data security research, interactive seminars/workshops and real-life examples of data breaches that occurred because data was improperly or incompletely wiped. These are key areas where I’ll be focusing to make sure all educational content, events and best practices we develop are tailored to help businesses manage data properly across the entire lifecycle and improve their overall security posturing.

And then there’s ‘big data’ – a buzzword that’s often tossed around by companies when talking about their business strategies and goals. Just how ‘big’ is ‘big data’? Every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created. But most of the time, businesses are hyper-focused on capturing big data to better understand their customers’ digital needs, content preferences and purchasing behaviors with the end goal of using that data to create more personalized, relevant and targeted content, promotional offers and user experiences.

But only until recently have questions and concerns of data security and privacy come up in relation to big data. For example, how long should data be kept by companies? What is the cost of storing data forever? When, where and how could data privacy be compromised? What are the dangers of failing to securely remove data from IT assets/environments when the time calls for it? Do security and privacy regulations like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation bring more attention and oversight over how companies create, store, manage, transfer and remove data? These are all questions I plan to bring to the forefront of corporate IT security agendas – and provide as much as guidance, education and training to help companies mitigate their security risks and reduce the likelihood of data breaches.

The next year will be busy and eventful, to say the least. On top of joining a thriving company in a thinly penetrated space, I am very excited to be working with an “A” team of industry veterans led by CEO, Pat Clawson.

Read the full press release here.
Read my Q&A chat on the company blog here.

Last but not least, I want to thank my family, friends, colleagues and clients (past and present) for your continued support over the last 10 years. It’s time to take my data security passion to the next level.

Richard Stiennon

Chief Strategy Officer at Blancco Technology Group