Sera-Brynn EVP Heather Engel Discusses her Role on Vice President Biden’s Cybersecurity Panel

Heather Engel was invited to be part of a cyber security panel discussion with Vice President Biden on January 16, 2015 at Norfolk State University. Heather then then shared more about the discussion which was closed to the press. She also provided business owners and consumers some great tips for what to do on their own.

Click here to view the news clip from WVEC.

Read the full transcript of the interview below.

WVEC: The Obama Administration has taken its fight for cybersecurity right here to Norfolk. We told you about Vice President Biden’s visit to Norfolk State earlier in the newscast. He assembled a panel for a roundtable discussion on what has become a critical issue. Well Heather Engel was on that panel, she’s the Executive Vice President of Sera-Brynn, a cybersecurity company, and she joins us now to talk more about what was discussed today because it was behind closed doors.

It had to be an honor to get that email inviting you to the panel.

Heather Engel: It was a great honor for us to be invited to be part of this panel. They had a great group of folks, a very diverse group of companies, political analysts, they had the President’s science advisor there, as well as the Secretary of Energy. It was a really good discussion about the cybersecurity initiatives that were announced today.

This is about building a cybersecurity army, so what was your advice to the Vice President on how to go about doing that?

We need a cybersecurity army. It’s top of the headlines everyday. Our advice, and mine in particular, and I think the rest of the panel was in agreement with this, is we need to start early. It goes back to some of the STEM programs that we’re teaching kids in high school, and even going back to middle school and maybe elementary school. People have to understand that you don’t have to be just a hacker. There are a lot of different jobs in the cybersecurity field, it’s not all hands on computing and programming—there are other things you can do that make you a part of that army. It’s all important and it all goes back to overall risk management.

When you hear about all the companies that have had the security breaches and even the US government, you just wonder how bad is this getting? You were telling me before about something that companies aren’t necessarily doing to protect themselves.

Sure, when we talk to our clients, the things we advise them to focus on are compliance. They need to know if there are compliance mandates that they have to adhere to. For example, PCI is one and HIPPA is another. Second, we advice them to look at cyber insurance, that’s a big trend over the last six months. Depending on the compliance requirements, you can get very good rates, but make sure if you’re going to purchase cyber insurance, that you’re buying insurance that’s right for your needs. Finally the third thing we teach our clients is to focus on response. When you have a hack, or when you have a data breach, what’s your crisis communications plan? Those are the three things we tell them are takeaways.

And of course, the average consumer can protect themselves by changing their password and just watching that Wi-Fi.

We actually had a really good conversation before the roundtable today about what consumers can do, and the most basic thing is to stay on top of your bank accounts. Make sure that you’re logging in and checking your credit card statements, your bank accounts, you’re changing your passwords and you’re being careful with what you share.

Thank you so much, Heather.