National Press Club

Corporate CEOs launch global Cyber Readiness Program for small business

December 19, 2018 | By Anne Bader | anne.bader@gmail.com

Chief executive officers launch Cyber Readiness Program for small businesses at a National Press Club Headliners Newsmaker on Dec. 17. From left: Kiersten Todt, managing director of the Cyber Readiness Institute; Samuel Palmisano, former president and CEO of IBM and current chair of the Center for Global Enterprise; Valecia Maclin, general manager for engineering, consumer security and trust at Microsoft; Ajay Banga, president and CEO of Mastercard; and Club President Andrea Edney.

Chief executive officers launch Cyber Readiness Program for small businesses at a National Press Club Headliners Newsmaker on Dec. 17. From left: Kiersten Todt, managing director of the Cyber Readiness Institute; Samuel Palmisano, former president and CEO of IBM and current chair of the Center for Global Enterprise; Valecia Maclin, general manager for engineering, consumer security and trust at Microsoft; Ajay Banga, president and CEO of Mastercard; and Club President Andrea Edney.

Photo/Image: Alan Kotok

It was standing room only Dec. 17 at a National Press Club Headliner Newsmaker event as leaders of Mastercard, IBM and Microsoft launched the Cyber Readiness Program, a global initiative of The Cyber Readiness Institute (CRI), to provide support to small and medium-sized businesses as recommended by an Obama bipartisan commission on cybersecurity in late 2016.

“One of the recommendations to President [Barack] Obama was that there was not enough focus on small and medium-sized businesses,” said retired IBM CEO and President Samuel Palmisano.

“The initial objective of CRI was to follow-up on the recommendations in the Commission Report that specifically focused on small and medium-sized businesses,” said Kiersten Todt, CRI managing director and former executive director of the Obama Administration’s Presidential Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity.

“Member companies include Mastercard, Microsoft, Maersk, Citi, ExxonMobil," said Todt. Organizations can become involved as Cyber Readiness Champions “to raise awareness within their networks through website, social media and email promotion. Current Champions include CTIA, Cyber USA, Global Automakers, Global Cyber Alliance, The Data Security Network Munich and others.”

CRI is a nonprofit created in July 2017 “by senior industry executives who served on the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, an independent, bipartisan Commission tasked with developing recommendations to secure the digital economy and to provide a roadmap for the incoming Administration,” according to its website.

The 2019 first phase of the free program focuses on cyber hygiene-authentication, patching, phishing and USB’s. The program takes a company through the process of developing policies, implementing them and measuring the results.

“This is going to be hard,” commented CRI Co-Chairman Aya Banga, president and CEO of Mastercard. ”The first year is for people to understand; the program expands in three to four years. What is your personal responsibility regarding cybersecurity?”

“Data is held by everyone. Every individual who has a phone and a computer in the workforce,” emphasized Palmisano.

“What makes this cyber readiness different?" asked the moderator, Club President Andrea Edney. "What do you see that demonstrates this urgency?”

“We started with the principle established in 1997,” explained Todt, “We have four issues that build a foundation. We provide the templates to create the culture of readiness. We define that discipline.”

“Cybersecurity is a key component of everything we do. Value chains, supply chains, security is the value added,” Todt said.