Siobhan MacDermott joined energy optimization company Utilidata in April as the company’s first chief information security officer, overseeing the company’s IT and product security programs.
MacDermott spoke with Providence Business News about cybersecurity and what her new role represents for Utilidata as a company.
PBN: How have you brought your experience with companies like Intel Security and AVG Technologies into play in your new role at Utilidata?
MACDERMOTT: As threats on the grid increase, cybersecurity is essential to us and to our customers. Working with McAfee and AVG have given me a really solid foundation in information security and privacy that ports over very well to Utilidata and our clients.
PBN: Utilidata Chairman and CEO Scott E. DePasquale has said that “Utilidata operates in a unique space where cyber security is mission critical.” Where do the fields of grid optimization and information security intersect?
MACDERMOTT: Anything that touches the grid, by definition touches critical infrastructure. Critical infrastructure was mainly built at a time before the advent of the Internet. As more and more devices touch the grid and become part of the “Internet of Things,” cybersecurity and ensuring that these assets are protected is mission critical.
PBN: What does your hiring at Utilidata signal about the direction of the company domestically and internationally going forward?
MACDERMOTT: We are hearing from our clients that they are placing an emphasis on security as it becomes a more mainstream topic for them. A lot of the cyber-activities on our critical infrastructure have an international component to them, since there are no borders on the Internet. As we deploy on customer networks, we are looking to be cyber excellent.
PBN: What does the United States’ recent charges of criminal cyberspying against Chinese military officials mean for U.S. companies and the issue of intellectual property theft?
MACDERMOTT: This is a long-standing issue between the U.S. and China that isn’t going to go away quickly. IP theft is still a huge issue, and I’m not certain that the recent charges will prove to more than a PR campaign. Issues of IP theft need to be addressed through diplomatic circles and with new technology to prevent it – and until such time as there is agreement from both the U.S. and China on this topic, it’s highly likely to continue.
PBN: You have published three books on cybersecurity and are currently working on a fourth. Can you talk a little bit about the new book and when it will be released?
MACDERMOTT: I am currently working on a book on the principle of the creation of “Cyberdiplomacy.” It will discuss how the move from physical space to cyber space is coming not on a national level, but in the global arena. The Internet has made all borders and boundaries permeable. Additionally, it has transformed traditionally hierarchical and centralized power structures into networks of peer-to-peer activity. The premise of the book is that this will require a new version of traditional diplomacy that will be supplanted by cyberdiplomacy. I am looking to release it in the fourth quarter this year.