Federal agencies have put cybersecurity defenses high on their agendas in recent years due in part to a “democratization of cybersecurity capability,” according to John Abeles and Ernest Wohnig of cybersecurity consulting firm System 1.
Abeles and Wohnig, respectively CEO and a senior vice president at System 1, offered a glimpse into how this disbursed nature of the cyber landscape also has resulted in what Wohnig called a “democratization of exposure” in a recent conversation with ExecutiveBiz.
For people and groups that want to do damage, Wohnig says, they have access to technologies and networks that were once exclusively available to those with significant resources.
“On the other side, the government is dependent on its IT infrastructure like never before and the infrastructure continues to grow by numbers that are hard to contextualize because of our dependency,” he said.
Bethesda, Md.-based System 1 supports the departments of Defense and Energy and holds positions on governmentwide contract vehicles such as the General Services Administration‘s Schedule 70 and the Federal Aviation Administration‘s BITS II vehicle for information technology services.
Abeles, System 1’s founder, told ExecutiveBiz the company views cybersecurity from a “holistic perspective” and seeks to address cybersecurity risk as part of a larger organizational risk model that focuses mainly on the organization’s people, culture, and processes verses the technology component.
“One of the important things that we’ve been working on is mentoring the senior leadership to view cyber as an operational risk and build it into the overall approach in the government and private sectors,” said Abeles.
“The industry cannot just protect an organization by sealing everything off with fortresses, moats, firewalls or sensors to find out everything that’s going on.”
Abeles traced the origins of System 1 to his identification of client demand for senior-level leaders with technical knowledge, practical experience and knowledge of organizational governance.
Wohnig has amended its recruitment approach as the market has evolved to align with an idea that “those behind the cyber threat are rapidly innovating and we need a workforce that has both the experience and the agility to match and where possible get ahead of this innovation threat curve.”
Wohnig told ExecutiveBiz he joined the company in part to help both public and private sectors get a handle on a changing cyber landscape as well as move System 1 back into the commercial critical infrastructure arena.
“Electrons don’t recognize national borders. Sony together with a number of other examples of attacks on public or private assets over the last couple of years have shown that there’s very little recognition by the adversaries in question regarding national sovereignty, corporate ownership, or personal rights.”