CEO of the Month
Digital Guardian is a data loss prevention company, headquartered in Massachusetts, United States. Ken Levine, the CEO of the company, chats to us about how the firm continues to provide a vital service in a challenging sector.
Digital Guardian’s mission is to provide ubiquitous data protection to organizations and corporations independent of the threat actor, data type, the system, application, device type or the point of access. Our unique data awareness and transformative endpoint visibility, combined with behavioural threat detection and response, provide a comprehensive security posture. We carry this data centric security posture across the network and into the cloud thus adapting to today’s borderless networks. Our customers use Digital Guardian’s Data Protection Platform to secure both structured and unstructured data, everything from executive emails, to chemical formulas, to customer data.
For more than ten years, Digital Guardian has enabled data-rich organizations to protect their most valuable assets with an on premises deployment or an outsourced managed security program (MSP). The company operates in more than 60 countries. Seven of the top ten global patent holders and seven of the ten largest global automobile manufacturers are our clients.
Tell me about your business and your ongoing strategy? Do you have any key principles you adhere to?
At Digital Guardian, we adhere to the saying “We’re focused on doing just one thing, protecting data” and that is something that is built into everything we do. Data is the lifeblood of a modern business and cybercriminals or other threat actors have made it their mission to steal it. Our goal is to stop them in their tracks.
I believe in hiring top-talent, starting at the executive level and extending to all levels of the business. I also believe in always striving for new innovation while preserving core competencies, and keeping realistic expectations while measuring incremental improvements. We try to adhere to a “no credit/no blame” principle whereby we try to minimize the blame game and the “self-congratulations” while still maintaining a culture of accountability.
How do you keep yourself motivated and positive in order to be successful?
I always tell my team that you can be “intense without being tense.” Striving to improve and approaching the day with a certain tenacity can be a good thing as long as they’re balanced with achievable goals, a positive outcome and a strong team that supports each other. Our executive team feeds off each other and I find my motivation in each of them – and all our people for that matter. Having an opportunity to have a second successful result in the security space gives me extra motivation as well.
What challenges have you had to overcome in order to be a successful CEO?
Not unique among some CEOs I have met, I am not the best at the details so there are areas of the business I have really forced myself to know. Also, I am not an engineer, so the other challenge has been to get as comfortable talking about product development as I am talking about sales. In both cases, hiring the best people is the single best way to overcome these challenges.
What are your thoughts on the state of your industry currently? Are there any particular issues/changes that are affecting it?
We have seen a significant resurgence in the demand for data loss prevention over the past two years, and this appetite continues to grow. There are a few factors that we believe are driving this.
Firstly, the broad acceptance by most companies that their systems have already been breached. Companies are finding “bad stuff” on their network and they understand that without meaningful protections around their most sensitive data, exfiltration is almost inevitable. In the past, they may have tried technical alternatives to avoid the perceived hassle of traditional network and/or endpoint DLP solutions, but security buyers are now realising the core tenets of DLP are the only real way to ensure sensitive data is truly protected. They now accept they need to identify their sensitive data, classify it as such, form a sensitive data usage policy, and put technology in place that can enforce those policies.
Another issue is the steady drumbeat of data breaches in the news. The Sony Pictures incident shone a new light on the business impact of a data breach and the C-suite is now paying close attention. Specific to Digital Guardian, and likely attributable to our leadership position in the protection of all data types including structured and unstructured data (like digital movie files), we saw a noticeable uptick in inbound interest post Sony Pictures. Security buyers understand there is no threat detection solution on the market, at the network or endpoint level, that can detect everything, so they are battening down the data hatches to ensure they are not the next Sony.
The third driver of change in the industry may be unique to Digital Guardian because of our Managed Security Program for Data Protection. Many in the market seem unaware that “outsourcing DLP” is even an option. When we make them aware that it’s available, they often prefer that option. We’re learning one of the key drivers preventing DLP adoption in many companies is the scarcity of security talent to manage the technology and the ongoing care and feeding required to have a successful data security program. Once they know we can manage that on their behalf, it becomes a viable option.
As a CEO, what industry trends do you follow to ensure your success, and how do you see these changes over the next 5 years?
We expect to see a rapid increase in IoT in the workplace, a steady increase of device proliferation, increased adoption of big data analytics and continued progression toward cloud-based services and computing. This will impact the security market in a few ways, including sensitive data living in complex IT environments and larger data sets that need protection. We will continue to scale and enhance our product to meet heterogeneous IT environment demands while providing the highest level of data protection.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I still want to play left field for the Boston Red Sox but absent that possibility, I see myself either still at Digital Guardian or doing some Board of Director work. Right now, I am so focused on helping Digital Guardian become the most successful company it can be, that I haven’t thought too much beyond the current quarter!
Company: Digital Guardian
Name: Ken Levine
Email: Touchdown PR – firstname.lastname@example.org