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Proofpoint Ep. 2 -- People-Centric Approach to Cybersecurity

TechVibe Geek Out

Continuing on the theme of the first podcast “It’s All About the People” two members of Proofpoint’s legal team Jeff Reed, Associate General Counsel (Located at Proofpoint HQ – Sunnyvale, CA) and Kristen Budris, Commercial Counsel (Located at Proofpoint Pittsburgh, PA office) will take a deeper dive into Proofpoint’s People-Centric approach to security and what that means for data privacy and security, specifically how Proofpoint enables companies to protect their greatest assets – their people 

Plus learn about Proofpoint’s history and work in cybersecurity and privacy, and what attracted Proofpoint to Wombat and Pittsburgh.




This is the TechVibe Radio Geek Out hanging out with Proofpoint. And this is Jonathan Kersting at the Pittsburgh Technology Council and TechVibe Radio. And we are continuing on our theme of this podcast. This is Episode Two that we've done in our geek out series. We had a few more to go. It's I'm very excited about the theme really, around Proofpoint as it is all about the people. Simple as that. And we have two members of proof points legal team hanging out with us today very excited to talk about proof points people centric approach to what they do when it comes to all things, cyber security. And I tell you what, today we have Jeff Reed, who's the associate General Counsel, he's hanging out in Sunnyvale, California, and we of course have Kristen Budris, who is commercial counsel, she's right here in the Pittsburgh Office. I like getting this whole like in between time zone thing going on here. Because you guys have the acoustics covered at Proofpoint. That's for sure. Yeah. Great hanging out with you guys. Before we get rolling, let's get some introduction. So Kristin, tell us about yourself, and what you do at Proofpoint and why it's so cool to be in Pittsburgh doing what you do, of course.

Yeah. Thanks, Jonathan. Really excited to be here and be a part of your podcast today. I have been an attorney for a long time now. And over my career, ethics has always played an important role. I do. And over the last 10 years or so I've had the opportunity to start doing more and more with respect to data privacy and security. Oh, yeah. Big stuff.

Yeah. And so it's it's kind of one of those small world Pittsburgh things where, through some professional organizations that I network with frequently, I got to know the person who is my current boss and adult works in Pittsburgh. Right.

That is.

But you know, we had some similar interests. And so that's ultimately what what led me to Proofpoint and it's been coming up on two years with Proofpoint and spin. Fantastic.

That's an awesome story. It says, Jeff, you're out in Sunnyvale, California, where some of the action is I see all the actions in Pittsburgh and some of the actions in Sunnyvale, you'd probably agree with me on that. But now we love it. So tell us about your background and being like associate general counsel and tell us what's the weather like in Sunnyvale today? Is it? Yeah.

Yeah. Every day is a sunny day in Sunnyvale. And, and thanks for having me on your show.

I work on a variety of things, and data security and data privacy are a big part of that as well. And, you know, proof point, I've been here six years, not sorry, five years now. And, you know, I, I just think proof pointed is amazing place to work it. I mean, not only do you have really, you know, great smart people working on innovative, you know, technologies that are geared at, you know, helping the world be more secure the cyber world be more secure. In addition to that, you know, the culture of this company is just very much customer driven, customer focused, definitely, but also also focused on, you know, doing what's right. So, which is a great fit for anybody who is, you know, cares about data privacy, and data security. So, if you don't care about data, privacy and data security, you need to like find a life, because that has to be everybody's top concern. And that's why I think proof points is a special company, because that's that's what you do. And you do it in such a way that just makes it actionable. It makes it digestible. So folks, like me, can learn the best practices and keep ourselves safe. As far as that goes. For we dive into our topic a little bit today, just just to give our listeners in case they're new to this, just a little background on Proofpoint and the fact that Proofpoint bought wombat security technologies back in the day here in Pittsburgh, to strengthen its operations can tell us about some of the key things that Proofpoint is up to in this day and age.

Yeah, so, you know, the, the acquisition of wombat was viewed as very strategic. I mean, there was this great company in Pittsburgh, you know, with with this, you know, best in breed of, you know, training. And, obviously, we had a lot of offerings that were we put out there in order to help our, our customers to help secure their, their communications with all of their customers, with their suppliers and with their partners, you know, just all of that constant email. Communication. And we, we saw that one bat with its, you know, with with its great training Products was really like a perfect fit for proof point. And, and not only from a technology point of view, but as we, you know, got further and further into that, that merger and then finally completed it. And with the integration of the two companies, you know, the fit and the the culture, the attitude of customer focus of, you know, really caring about what's important. And, you know, making it making it happen. It was just, it was exactly like, a marriage of two, like minded, you know, very focused very innovative companies. And, you know, to this to this day, you know, there's so much back and forth between the Pittsburgh and in all the other parts of Proofpoint, it's, you know, there's just been a huge contribution. And, you know, with the wombat acquisition, so it's been fantastic. Yeah, it seems like one of those this cool, kind of like, kind of mergers where like things has really worked out from both sides. Like you're not just getting the technology from all that kind of rolling in, but you really bring in all the magic sauce that comes with that, too. And that's the people. As far as that is any Christian, you could tell us a little bit about what goes on in the Pittsburgh Office as being part of Proofpoint.

Sure. So I joined preplant after the one that acquisition, but the wombat culture, I think, seemed to match very nicely with the recruitment culture based on experience. And just seeing everybody's so I don't know how to say this other than everybody really cares about what they're doing. If you're playing God forbid, in that amazing, it's like, Man, you're in a place and we actually care like, yeah, we want to. We want to offer things for each year. Cool stuff.

So let's just jump into our topic today. Because I think this is this is really cool stuff. And I think obviously, this is what really sets you guys apart. Is this people centric vision of what you guys have. Tell us about that? Kristen? What does that mean, when it comes to people centered vision and when it comes to your innovation in around cybersecurity?

So the way I think of it is that Proofpoint is using security to help its customers protect their people, okay. And that's everything from helping employees understand what sort of threats they might be facing through email, or social engineering, or, you know, other vectors that that they can be susceptible. And it's also providing them with technological resources that can be a little bit more proactive about blocking those threats when they come in.

Very, very cool. Very good. Jeff. So what's what's your take on it as well coming from your angle on this?

Yeah, so people centric is really we the, how do you say it is the, we think of it as the cutting edge of security, and it, you know, with, with our approach of, you know, focusing on how do we secure every single person in an organization that allows, you know, it, that allows us to not just train up the people, but to protect them against the threats for which they might be most vulnerable for. So for example, based on on, you know, the patterns of the types of, of email threats, for example, that come in, and maybe, maybe I'm tempted by a certain category, like me, you know, maybe I have a golden Doodle, and maybe I just really love write emails with links to golden doodles. But if somebody sort of figures that out, and you know, and sends a link that maybe I shouldn't be clicking on, because it's what what it's going to do is it's, it's a credential fish, it's going to try and download credential, steal mine to gain other access into the organization. With our technologies, what if it's, if, if we're finding that that's something that's creating a vulnerability, both for my laptop and for me, and for the organization as a whole, we can trigger additional, you know, training capabilities. To directly to me to say, hey, Jeff, hey, by the way, let's teach you how to really look out for these these types of messages that you seem to be falling for.

Anything from golden doodles, just don't click on it, okay.

And we do it in a much we do it in a much more professional sounding way. But you know, it's, uh, you know, it's a good learning spirits. We think we talked a lot about teachable moments and, and, you know, opportunities to educate the employees within the organization on, hey, you know, we've got great technology protecting us. You can't stop every single thing. So let's make sure all of our employees know how to spot stuff. That's been That happens to have gotten through this systems.

Yeah. So the one thing that I have learned over the years covering this topic is that, you know, there's no one technology solution that's going to zap everything, it's going to guard everything. There's no extra red light on the firewall, that's going to catch everything. But the idea is, you need to create this culture of security and privacy. And that culture is created by having this train by making people continually aware and doing it in a way that you really learn, and, and so forth. And without that becoming this way that you do business, it doesn't really matter what you do, because that's that, that fills those little gaps in I guess we're all these evil things tend to like to penetrate as far as that goes. And that's where I know, I have my own personal experience, when we actually use some of the wombat testing stuff, we did some stuff with our staff and man, it was, it was a really cool way to show people and you got to be on your toes, and definitely, that it impacted me so much. I am probably one of the most hyper vigilant people with my email you would ever want to meet. That's all I'm saying.

I don't click on anything.

Because it could go on that test from back in the day, and then that would be called out in a staff meeting. But it does, it does work as far as that goes. So obviously training is critical. I think it creates that culture. What so what's cool is is that obviously, everything that you guys do, it's privacy, this is by design, I mean, this is where you guys go from the ground level, he wants to jump in and tell me more about that.

Yeah, so I'll start and then Kristin, if you want to add anything. So, you know, in the people centric world. You know, one of the things that in the very beginnings of, of us starting to think of this less as just a bunch of systems that are set up to, you know, try and catch everything as it comes through through the enterprise. And to start thinking more about what, what kinds of things actually make it through? And how can we, how can we help our customers identify and stop that and actually just figure out where those, those little weaknesses are. So they can shore up their defenses in that area? As those conversations started, the, you know, what, first, one of the very first questions right out of the gate was, and how do we do that in a way that is also going to, you know, protect the individual rights that, you know, that are in play, and you know, whether that's under GDPR, ccpa, or any other, you know, privacy regime around the country, you know, we have those conversations with our customers about our products all the time. And, you know, and the right ways to implement it in the you know, and even just how some of these training exercises, for example, or the email filtering product, in and of itself, end up becoming part of the customer's Arsenal in their own journey around privacy and security and, and in you know, we just sort of see ourselves as an extension to help them right, achieve those, those privacy and security goals as well. And so it's it's definitely something that we talk about constantly. It's always a part of, of our internal conversations around product development around you know, how do we as an organization, handle data that we receive that comes in, in you know, sit and share it back to the customer and leverage that in order to help protect them? Absolutely. And that's why I just find it so amazing. I get a little Pittsburgh proud when I think about back in the day when when Norman Sunday and Laurie Craner were founding near wombat and that they kind of had this this vision very early on before a lot of other companies were kind of thinking in this way and how they were able to kind of grow that and it scaled to a point where it then became part of Proofpoint that's part of your overall selection of ways he helped us all stay safe and keep companies locked down in a good way and I just think that's just amazing that Pittsburgh played a role in kind of like overall making sure we were heads are above water or on all things security these days, that's for sure. So let's talk about the Pittsburgh Office a little bit and and talk about, you know, data privacy and security concerns for companies and healthcare and everything. You know, everyone i think it's it's a concern for everybody. I mean, you can call it any company, if you're not worried about security, like I said before, you're like in big trouble. Um, you know, tell us like your some proof points, like, like customers and so forth that you're working with, especially in the Pittsburgh area, you can talk about some of that.

Um, well, we can't name names.

But give us some things that rhyme.

I mean, I think that Pittsburgh is for being a smaller city. I think we have interesting companies in Pittsburgh who do business globally, and have the Very sensitive data that they have, because they are in health care or they're in finance, or they're in cutting edge technology, or it's just information about their business, their people, their patients, their members, you know, whatever it is that that they're looking to make sure as absolutely as far as can be. And so I think, there, it seemed like there was a nice local presence for wombat prior to becoming part of Proofpoint. And I think that that has just grown over time. And one thing that I think is interesting about the Pittsburgh part of that connection is that through different opportunities with kind of email in the International Association of privacy professionals, or other professional groups, there are opportunities to go and meet these people. And so you're you're getting to meet the people who work in IT security, or who are ceases at their organization, or are like me and attorney who likes working data privacy, kind of getting to know those people and, and share, like understanding what their concerns are, what are the things that they're seeing, brainstorming about what works and, and that's always been something that I've enjoyed.

So if I may, I just wanted to throw in one thing I worked, you know, we're not, we're not being legalistic or coy when we say, you know, we actually can't name names, it's actually something that I think is another good example of how seriously Proofpoint takes the privacy and security of our customers as a whole. So, like, the example that we like to use is it you know, if you tell, if you identify the type of lock that you're using, gives you a way in possibly gives you that little potential grip hole, right?

That's right, because then the thief can sort of narrow down from the total possibilities of, you know, security down to, oh, I only have to worry about this one particular time. Gotcha. Yeah. And so that's, you know, so I know, it's perhaps frustrating sometimes, but that is just again, you know, I think just a really good example of how we, you know, it goes to show you guys this is this is up and down all the way around, you're not letting anything get through. And I support that. But I always want to know who's working on your stuff. I know that you guys are working with some really big customers and really important customers. And that's just, it brings a little bit of my Pittsburgh products. I think it's pretty cool. When these types of organizations are relying on Proofpoint, you know, to keep themselves like I said, safe and secure. Because that is just to me, the ultimate right now, like I think every company is pretty much top priority. If you're not locking it down, then you might as well forget it, just hand it away for free. Very cool stuff. So tell us I knew you guys, despite COVID and all the craziness that's going on, you're still hiring people, even though people are working virtually, but you're still in hiring mode. Tell us a little bit about that. Kristen, what's going on with the hiring right now.

I think this is one of the most amazing things about the point is that Proofpoint is always looking for the best talent in the world to do to on our team and throughout COVID. Especially excuse me, starting when everybody started working remotely. Our CEO said, you know, we're we're still hiring. And that's a very reassuring thing to hear as an employee.


Yeah, I mean, everything's so uncertain right now. So yeah. And that just seems like the range of opportunities that for point is also really interesting. I mean, like me as an attorney, being able to have this opportunity to work in an area that I really, truly love and enjoy has been fantastic. And even when it is hard office, there's just such a diverse range of, of experts in lots of different fields.

Very much so good stuff. All right. That's why we're pumped that Proofpoint continues to invest in Pittsburgh, you guys know we have some secret sauce here that makes everything you guys do just a little bit better. And that's it can't think is enough for hanging out and talking with me today. I love having these geek outs. We got a few more coming because there's so many areas of proof point that we're going to explore in this series. I think it's just a lot of fun. I like it, we can get the microscope out and put it on different parts of the business. So you can really see them in Pittsburgh recently, some great companies like Proofpoint so Kelly, I can't thank you enough for being part of this. Kristen and Jeff, you guys are the best.

Jonathan, this is fun.

Yeah, it's been great. Thank you so much.

Absolutely. Once again, this is Jonathan Kersting with the Pittsburgh tech Council and tech vibe radio bringing you this tech vibe. geek out talking to the coolest companies In Pittsburgh's tech ecosystem and that special focus on proof point

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