In the spring of 2011, RSA, the Security Division of EMC, suffered a hostile nation-state intrusion into their data systems. In order to help deal with the aftermath of this attack, RSA hired Eddie Schwartz as their first chief information security officer. Schwartz, who now also serves as the vice president of RSA, has successfully helped the company enhance its own internal security, worked to restore trust in the EMC brand, and moved the corporation into an even stronger position to help clients around the world counter increasingly aggressive and persistent cyber threats.
His ability to excel under pressure and help lead RSA during its time of crisis, along with his many other achievements, helped secure his spot on Computerworld's list of Premiere 100 IT Leaders for 2013. The award honors technology and business leaders for their exceptional technology leadership, innovative solutions to business challenges and effective management of IT strategies.
"It's a great honor, that's for sure," says Schwartz on receiving the award.
Schwartz entered the cyber security field in the early 1990's, following the suggestion of his mentor who saw information security as an emerging area in IT. This decision proved to be a perfect fit as he went on to establish successful startup companies, serve as CTO at ManTech, and hold senior technology positions at Global Integrity, Guardent, and Nationwide Insurance. He also served as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer for 13 years.
Though Schwartz had a successful career, he found himself wanting a new challenge. He had attended some college after high school but left without finishing his degree. He decided to take a sabbatical from work and enroll at George Mason to complete a bachelor's degree in information security management.
"After I completed my bachelor degree, says Schwartz, "I heard of the executive program in technology management. It seemed like something that was a good fit for me in terms of supplementing some of my work-life experience."
"What also attracted me to the program was the opportunity to work in a peer-based environment, and explore some ideas I had developed relative to management concepts."
The School of Management's Master of Science in Technology Management program focuses on strategic, ethical leadership and the interrelationships of technology and management in a global and networked technology marketplace. "When you think about all of the different types of classes that go into the program I think the emphasis on areas like negotiation is really important," he says, recalling his favorite class in the program. "What I learned is that everything is negotiable in the 'business-sense.' I found it to be really useful in my later years, and I can't even tell you how much I value both the teaching style of the professor we had and the content of the class."
The capstone course was especially memorable to Schwartz—his team won the competition that year. "It was a fitting ending to the program, and it was very exciting. It showed that we were able to put all the pieces of everything we learned together in an effective way and be judged that we had actually achieved those goals by an outside panel of experts."
While in the MS in Technology Management program, Schwartz was already using the new skills he had acquired to help establish and serve as CSO of NetWitness, a network forensics and security analytics company. The company, founded in 2006, was acquired by EMC in April 2011. Schwartz considers NetWitness one of his greatest accomplishments. "It was a game changer in terms of creating a whole new market category of network security technology," he says.
He also considers being asked by the management of EMC and RSA to provide leadership for their information security after their crisis as another of his top accomplishments. "RSA is one of the leading security brands in the world and this position has global exposure and impact," he shares. "Internally, I am responsible for information security, including product security, and risk management, but I also spend a lot of time networking with my peers around the world who buy RSA and EMC products, comparing notes and discussing how to improve our industry and the future of security management."
In an increasingly technological era, information security is more important than ever.
Schwartz's views on the future of the field have cemented his reputation as a transformational thinker in information security. He is an advocate for organizations having a central focus on their cyber security adversaries and their motivations, objectives and capabilities, then prioritizing the value of information assets and the potential effects of compromise to stay ahead of advanced threats. He also encourages trusted collaboration within and among organizations to help neutralize persistent threats. Schwartz believes in openly sharing and benchmarking security frameworks—collaborations that result in a formidable network against adversarial intrusion and success rates.
"As the threat landscape continues to become more complicated, our ability to defend against it becomes more challenging," explains Schwartz. "I think that it's important to have a deep understanding of the technology but also to understand the way businesses will leverage this technology across mobile, cloud, social media, and big data. For everything we do, we depend on technology and this complexity makes it vulnerable. It's incumbent upon universities to continue to evaluate what programs will be useful to turn out the experts we need that can be the cyber-defenders of now and of the future."