17 Tech Leadership Lessons Learned from the Equifax Breach - Part 2
October 19, 2017

Electric Cloud recently hosted a special episode of Continuous Discussions (#c9d9), featuring Gene Kim and speakers from the upcoming DevOps Enterprise Summit San Francisco (DOES17). In light of the recent Equifax breach, Kim and the speakers dissected the situation and discussed the technical leadership lessons learned while offering their own expert advice for handling crisis situations.

The panel included:

■ Carmen DeArdo, Technology Director at Nationwide Insurance

■ John Allspaw, (former) CTO of Etsy

■ John Esser, Senior Director of IT and Data Center Operations at AdvancedMD

■ Mik Kersten, CEO of Tasktop

■ Scott Nasello, Senior Manager of Platform and Systems Engineering at Columbia Sportswear

■ Anders Wallgren, CTO of Electric Cloud

Start with 17 Tech Leadership Lessons Learned from the Equifax Breach - Part 1 for highlights 1 - 8.

The following are highlights 9 - 17.

9. What it really comes down to is doing what is right, advises Kim: "Let us not fool ourselves, when things like this happen regulatory bodies start getting involved, investigators are getting involved and I, as the leader, would want to get ahead of that. We're not going to do something to make regulators happy, we are going to do this because we know that this is what a responsible, successful organization does. That's something I would love to see from that leader."

10. Allspaw on the direct relationship to business success and complexity: "As you become more successful, you are proportionally becoming more complex because you are taking advantage of new opportunities. Therefore, you have to keep that ability, that capacity, to grasp new opportunities in step with investing in all of the things that you need to do to mitigate the risk that comes along with it."

11. It's important that business leaders understand technical debt, says Kersten: "In large organizations, if they don't understand that the trade-off between investment features and technical debt or even value stream improvements – as is the case – then you need to set a value stream that can actually patch struts and an architecture that supports that, otherwise they can't lead the company adequately."

12. The more you can reduce transaction costs around non-functional requirements, the more business buy-in you will receive, per Esser: "The spirit of the DevOps movement is how you make non-functional requirements, like security maintenance, that from a business perspective look like a liability, they look like they're costing me money. How do you reduce that transaction cost? The more you can reduce that transaction cost, the more the business is going to be amenable to you doing these functions."

13. It's all about getting in the right mindset, per DeArdo: "You have to have a mindset beyond, ‘I'm going to patch. I'll just keep up with my patch and the problem will go away.' Yes, you should do patches, but that's not going to solve the problem. You don't have the right culture mindset to drive a stride."

14. It's important that the technology and business organizations communicate with each other the reasoning for making certain decisions, advises Nasello: "Sometimes in the technology organization we may be constrained with vocabulary on helping our business leaders to understand why we need to continue to invest in availabilities or nonfunctional capabilities. Not understanding the broader context in the business domain of what they were using the technology organization for is a chronic conflict. I think what exists in all of our organizations is making hygiene, maintenance, everything else important along with business."

15. It's important to explain things in terms that each stakeholder will understand, advises Kersten: "Our CFO just calls himself an accountant and so we have to bring it back to those terms. And same with some of these CEOs – it's got to go back to business terms. In the end, it's about dollars and risk. In the end business leaders should be looking at net present value of the company. They understand if you've got high velocity, but extremely high risk, and this new application has sensitive information that's exposed, then the present value will be lower."

16. Getting security comes down to affordability, says Esser: "It's not the value of the investment, it's not the value necessarily of security. I can try to compare that value but, there's probability involved as well. In my experience you're always going to be able to do what you need to do as a technologist if you can make it affordable."

17. Allspaw doesn't think this is actually a leadership issue: "I actually don't think that there's a leadership lesson in here. There's a leadership lesson in apologizing, a leadership lesson in setting the conditions for the organization to learn, but again in the end it all comes back to faster, better, cheaper."

Watch the full discussion below

The Latest

April 19, 2018

As development speed has become a competitive advantage, the DevOps team has sought to enable continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD). For the CI/CD process to be successful, it must be fast and efficient. Any potential roadblocks that delay any part of the process increase cycle times and slow down delivery ...

April 18, 2018

The top barriers to DevOps adoption involve stagnant organizational cultures; managing the jumble of legacy processes, IT infrastructure and newly created cloud environments; and growing software complexity that impacts application modernization initiatives ...

April 16, 2018

This is the third in a series of three blogs directed at recent EMA research on the digital war room. In this blog, we'll look at three areas that have emerged in a spotlight in and of themselves — as signs of changing times — let alone as they may impact digital war room decision making. They are the growing focus on development and agile/DevOps; the impacts of cloud; and the growing need for security and operations (SecOps) to team more effectively ...

April 12, 2018

Only 52 percent of developers using commercial or open source components in their applications update those components when a new security vulnerability is announced, according to new research conducted by Vanson Bourne for CA Veracode, part of CA Technologies. This highlights organizations' lack of security awareness and puts organizations at risk of a breach ...

April 10, 2018

For a few years now, it has seemed like agile developers and DevOps teams haven't been giving testing its proper due. One could almost picture them thinking, "So what if there's a bug, design flaw or performance issue. We'll fix it in the new version next week." Of course, this line of thinking has turned out to be a big mistake ...

Share this