Adaptive Segmentationmicro-segmentation June 26, 2018

Why This Former Pentagon Security Strategist Made the Move to Illumio

Jonathan Reiber,

Cyberattacks can be difficult to detect, assess, and mitigate – and the consequences of a breach can be significant for a company’s bottom line or for the overall economic and political health of a country. Consider just three recent historical and well-known cyberattacks and their consequences.


  • In 2016, North Korean hackers broke into the Bangladesh Central Bank's networks and stole $81 million dollars from the bank’s holdings in the U.S. Federal Reserve.
  • In 2015 and 2016, Russia conducted a disruptive attack on the Ukrainian electric grid, shutting off power for segments of the Ukrainian population.
  • Finally, in 2015 and 2016, Russia carried out a set of coordinated cyberspace operations against the 2016 U.S. presidential election, breaking into the DNC's networks, hacking senior leaders' email inboxes and leaking the information to WikiLeaks and DCLeaks (a Russian front organization), and buying propaganda on social media to disrupt the democratic process.

» Yet historians may still look back on this period and say we were just at the end of Act I for the digital age. 

The Internet is about to grow by another billion users as access expands rapidly in China and India, across Asia and further afield. It may well be that we ain’t seen nothing yet.

No one organization or technology can provide a silver bullet for all of the digital challenges we face. Nor are those challenges monolithic: the socio-political problems of online echo chambers and hate speech are far different than the security vulnerabilities that enable a malware attack on an energy grid. But each of the above operations included some element of breach. Breaches happen; it’s not a question of if, but when. That’s the reality we’ve seen over and over again, and any effective cybersecurity strategy must assume and plan for breach.

Enter Illumio, with micro-segmentation technology that prevents the spread of breaches and makes organizations more resilient to cyberattacks. With that...

There are three main reasons why I joined Illumio. 

First, the Illumio team. You may have the best technology in the world, but the people behind it matter most. This is a hardworking, creative, and dynamic group; you can see it on their faces and in the enthusiasm they bring to work. The people at Illumio are on a mission to build a new foundation for cybersecurity that will improve the world's digital health – not just to build a successful company.

Second comes the mission. East to west, north to south, the world is unprepared for the risks of digitization. We see it every day in news stories of data theft and security mistakes. In part, our problems are a function of the pace of change; recall that the Internet went from zero users at its birth in 1983 to over 3.8 billion users today – all in just 35 years (about the same age, mind you, as the actor Chris Hemsworth). And this growth happened without a consensus or popular understanding of the security and socio-political risks of digitization. We are behind the curve in protecting ourselves online. 

» Illumio's mission is dedicated to building a new foundation for cybersecurity. For a person concerned with international security and human well-being in the digital age, this is a compelling mission.

Which brings me to the third and final reason: the role and what I hope to achieve. As a writer, I try to use words and narratives to help shape human perceptions of the world. As a strategist, my goal is to help organizations and society at large to understand and meet the security and socio-political challenges we face. As head of cybersecurity strategy at Illumio, I will do a mix of both of these things: I will think and write about our digital and cybersecurity problems and help identify security solutions. Largely this will mean asking good questions, probing new areas of inquiry, and developing new ideas with the team. Ultimately, I will be producing content here and on other mediums – and the aim is for it to delight as well as inform.

Your feedback and partnership would be a great help in this work. If you are interested in the future of cybersecurity and technological risk, please watch this space and follow me @jonathanreiber. 

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