Curbing Security Threats is Red Cross Exec’s Priority

Q: What is your role when it comes to the Web?

I scan [the Red Cross] site periodically for the vulnerabilities and … I have very good relationship with our Web developers and we work out whatever the issue might be. I’m trying to be a resource for the technical folks so every time there’s a security issue or they want to talk to me we figure it out from there. The Web site is absolutely critical – that’s our face to the Internet. And we’re always trying to make sure we’re upgraded and patched and those types of things. I’ll assess the Web site and firewall’s security from my home … to make sure we’re OK from the outside in.

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Q: Which of your skills has served you best in your role?

Probably from my early days in the naval nuclear program with Westinghouse, there was a definite slant toward an engineering mentality. By that I mean to take a problem and really study it and dig down into the issues and get to the root of the matter instead of trying to fix things in a superficial way. It’s something we were ingrained with -attention to detail … where in today’s world there is a fast food mentality and instant gratification. Perhaps I’m getting a little older but I think I’ve learned a lot in engineering and disciplines about digging down as far as you’re able, to address issues below the surface.

Q: What keeps you awake at night?

The sheer breadth of the computing systems we have here at the American Red Cross. We have biomedical systems, which are under FDA regulations, we have systems that support the Department of Defense for the Armed Forces, emergency services and systems that support disaster services, that support chapters, and the normal corporate systems: financial systems and all those types of systems. So the thing that keeps me awake is the sheer diverse population of critical systems for what we do.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

I’m on a computer when I go home – it’s almost non-stop trying to keep up. The technology moves up so fast, it’s just never ending, so a lot of the time, I built a little network at home and got a cable modem, so you’re constantly trying to learn and work with the technology. So I’m not much fun to be around. That’s probably indicative of most security people. Between the [Pittsburgh] Steelers and the computers and my cats and my wife, that’s about it. Not necessarily in that order.

Esther Shein is a freelance writer and editor in Framingham, Mass. She can be reached at [email protected].

Editor’s note: If you’re a CIO or other high level enterprise IT executive who would like to be considered for CIN Q&A, or if you’d like to recommend a subject to be profiled, send a note of suggestion to CIN Senior Editor David Aponovich at [email protected].