Do a penetration test, it tells you where you are and will give you a sense for what’s needed.
Ask your cloud or server provider what security measures are in place.
Conduct an annual security review, educate your team on phishing emails and industry related threats.
As a part of our series about “5 Things You Need To Know To Optimize Your Company’s Approach to Data Privacy and Cybersecurity”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Pittman, CEO and founder of Blyncsy. Blyncsy delivers movement intelligence to provide customers with the ability to understand behaviors and trends in any given environment. Blyncsy’s team of data scientists and software engineers have built a state-of-the-art platform, which helps turn complex data into simple, actionable insights. Customers such as cities, counties, departments of transportation, universities, and private entities, all use Blyncsy’s data and analytics to help make smarter decisions. Blyncsy: Movement Data Intelligence.
Mark is so passionate about privacy that he co-authored his state’s first ever privacy legislation, which served as the basis for the California Privacy Act.
Prior to starting Blyncsy, Mark worked in areas as diverse as political campaigns, law firms, start-ups, and a Fortune 500 company. Mark studied at the University of Utah, where he earned a JD, an MBA, and an MS in International Affairs and Global Enterprise. Mark completed a BS in Political Science, International Studies, and Economics.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I grew up in a military family. This put security and the idea that we’re under threat front and center in my life.
Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in cybersecurity? We’d love to hear it.
In 2014, I was in law school. I started learning about the lack of privacy laws and regulations in the United States and how it’s really still the wild west — it’s up to everyone to ensure and protect their own privacy. This inspired me to help define the role of privacy and cybersecurity in our space.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
The most important thing to a young company or entrepreneur is someone who’s willing to take the risk on them the first time: Gordon Wilson, Associate Vice President at the University of Utah, is the one who gave us a shot.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
COVID 19 has ruined the world as we knew it. Controlling the spread of the pandemic is a mission we personally took on as a company with the launch of Mercury, a privacy-focused tool to reduce the spread of COVID 19 in high-risk environments such as schools and offices.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Mindfulness is the one lesson I’ve learned as the most crucial tool in avoiding burn out. It’s important to identify when and where you’re feeling “off,” and “why.” Then, ask yourself why you feel that way and be mindful of what caused it.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The Cybersecurity industry, as it is today, is such an exciting arena. What are the 3 things that most excite you about the Cybersecurity industry? Can you explain?
Providing cybersecurity protections for customers allows new possibilities. That’s the most exciting for me. When a customer feels confident and secure with your cybersecurity they’re more likely to provide access to other data sets which would drive even more innovation. So really this allows for more access, more innovation, and new technologies. Those are the 3 most exciting things about Cybersecurity.
Looking ahead to the near future, are there critical threats on the horizon that you think companies need to start preparing for?
Cryptography protects most of what we transmit, send, and do today; quantum computing could potentially render our encryption technology obsolete. Many people are of the opinion that we are still many years away from that possibility, which is exactly why I think we need to prepare today.
Do you have a story from your experience about a cybersecurity breach that you helped fix or stop? What were the main takeaways from that story?
What are the main cybersecurity tools that you use on a frequent basis? For the benefit of our readers can you briefly explain what they do?
We’re big fans of Google Cloud, in particular a host of their tools. Armor is one of our favorites. It’s simple, effective and lets you quash a threat instantly.
How does someone who doesn’t have a large team deal with this? How would you articulate when a company can suffice with “over the counter”software, and when they need to move to a contract with a cybersecurity agency, or hire their own Chief Information Security Officer?
There’s an entire industry designed to provide cybersecurity as a service; that’s where I would point them.
As you know, breaches or hacks can occur even for those who are best prepared, and no one will be aware of it for a while. Are there 3 or 4 signs that a lay person can see or look for that might indicate that something might be “amiss”?
Often times you’ll notice probing, maybe you get strange emails that seem like phishing, odd website submissions or lots of new web traffic from a rogue state. These are often your first hints that you’ve made it on someone’s radar and might want to review the security you have in place.
After a company is made aware of a data or security breach, what are the most important things they should do to protect themselves further, as well as protect their customers?
Having cybersecurity insurance is always important. Identifying the scope of the breach, the length, and what was compromised is the most critical. Second, communicate early and often. Hiding things never goes over well.
These sorts of privacy regulations and frameworks make it clear and easy for customers to differentiate between who knows what they’re doing and who doesn’t. We like to focus on CCPA with California customers, especially since our competitors aren’t as up to date on privacy as we are.
What are the most common data security and cybersecurity mistakes you have seen companies make?
Open endpoints, not using encrypted communications, and not educating their employees on what to look for in cyber threats.
Since the COVID19 Pandemic began and companies have become more dispersed, have you seen an uptick in cybersecurity or privacy errors? Can you explain?
We’ve seen a mad dash to adapt to COVID — in particular, remote work and schooling from home. This creates risks. Often the risk was simply that the agency wasn’t prepared, which leads to errors. Entities who are used to remote environments, international business, etc often didn’t have to make any changes.
Ok, thank you. Here is the main question of our interview. What are the “5 Things Every Company Needs To Know To Tighten Up Its Approach to Data Privacy and Cybersecurity” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Do a penetration test, it tells you where you are and will give you a sense for what’s needed.
- Ask your cloud or server provider what security measures are in place.
- Ask yourself how a high-level, disgruntled employee who knows your system very well could damage you, and work backwards to not make that possible.
- Conduct an annual security review, educate your team on phishing emails and industry related threats.
- Get cybersecurity insurance.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂 (Think, simple, fast, effective and something everyone can do!)
Finish your food. Almost 30–40% of all the food we grow in America is wasted. Finishing what you have can save the planet and make food cheaper and more available in food-poor nations.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I’m a Forbes Contributor, please follow me there
This was very inspiring and informative. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this interview!