Do’s And Don’ts of Trashing Your Competition

We want to malign our competitors, but just don’t know how mean we should be. Miss Manners steps in on the latest episode of CISO/Security Vendor Relationship Podcast.

This episode is hosted by me, David Spark (@dspark), producer of CISO Series and founder of Spark Media Solutions and special guest co-host, Mark Eggleston (@meggleston), CISO, Health Partners Plans, and our guest is Anahi Santiago (@AnahiSantiago), CISO, ChristianaCare Health System.

We recorded in front of a live audience at Evanta’s CISO Executive Summit in Philadelphia on November 5th, 2019.

Recording CISO/Security Vendor Relationship Podcast in front of a live audience at Evanta’s CISO Executive Summit in Philadelphia (11-05-19)

Thanks to this week’s podcast sponsors Trend Micro, Thinkst, and Secure Controls Framework

Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in cybersecurity solutions, helps to make the world safe for exchanging digital information. Our innovative solutions for consumers, businesses, and governments provide layered security for data centers, cloud environments, networks, and endpoints. For more information, visit
Most companies find out way too late that they’ve been breached. Thinkst Canary changes this. Find out why the Thinkst Canary is one of the most loved products in the business and why the smartest security teams in the world run Canary. Visit
The Secure Controls Framework (SCF) is a meta-framework – a framework of frameworks. This free solution is available for companies to use to design, implement and manage their cybersecurity and privacy controls in an efficient and sustainable manner. Our approach provides a comprehensive solution to manage complex compliance needs.

Got feedback? Join the conversation on LinkedIn.

On this week’s episode

Why is everyone talking about this now?

Greg van der Gaast, former guest who runs security at The University of Salford, initiated a popular LinkedIn discussion on the topic of human error. According to his colleague Matthew Trump of the University of Sussex, in critical industries, such as aerospace, oil & gas, and medical, “human error” is not an acceptable answer. You simply have to prevent the incident. If not, a mistake can be both a regulatory violation and lethal.

But people are a part of the security equation. It’s unavoidable.

We know zero erros is impossible, but can you accept “human error” as a fail point?

Hey, you’re a CISO, what’s your take on this?

Listener David said, “One thing I have experienced at my last two jobs is integrating with a ‘global’ security team whose security program is effectively and functionally inferior to our own. In these occasions, the global security team wanted us to remove current safeguards, processes/procedures and tooling that reduced the preparedness and effectiveness of our security program and introduced risk(s) that we have not been exposed to in years. All of these changes were always touted as a ‘one team’ initiative but never once was due diligence on security posture taken into account.

“What is the best way to go about a consolidation like this? Do you not mess with a good thing and ask the ‘better’ security program to report up incidents, conform to compliance check boxes etc. or as a CISO do you sign off on a risk acceptance knowing that the operating company is now in a worse state of security.”

“What’s Worse?!”

We’ve got two rounds of really bad scenarios.

What annoys a security professional

Geoff Belknap, former guest and CISO of LinkedIn, appreciates a vendor’s desire to “bring like minds” together around food or drink, but the invite is not welcome on a weekend. Belknap feels that the weekend intrudes into a CISO’s personal/family space. There was a lot of debate and disagreements on this, but there were some solutions. One mentioned a vendor invite that included round trip Lyft rides and childcare.

Oh, they did something stupid on social media again

Jason Hoenich, CEO of Habitu8 posted on LinkedIn that he didn’t appreciate Fortinet writing about security training for CSO Online, something for which Jason’s business does and for which he believes Fortinet does not have any expertise. It appears this was a sponsored article, but Jason didn’t point to the article nor did he isolate specifically what he felt was wrong with Fortinet’s advice.

Here at the CISO Series, we like Jason and Habitu8. They’ve been strong contributors to the community. But complaining and not pointing to any concrete evidence is not the best way to convince an audience. Earlier this year we saw something similar with the CEO of Crowdstrike going after the CEO of Cybereason claiming an underhanded sales tactic that was not specified nor anyone at Cybereason knew what he was talking about.

Is it OK to go after your competition in a public forum? If so, what’s the most professional and respectful way to handle it?

It’s time for the audience question speed round

Our Philadelphia audience has questions and our CISOs had some answers. We rattle off a quick series of questions and answers to close the show.

Creative Commons attribution with logo addition to Flickr user Miguel Discart.

David Spark is the founder of CISO Series where he produces and co-hosts many of the shows. Spark is a veteran tech journalist having appeared in dozens of media outlets for almost three decades.