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Akamai Taps Boaz Gelbord as New Security Chief

Edge security and content delivery giant Akamai Technologies has tapped Boaz Gelbord to lead its cybersecurity program.

Gelbord, a veteran Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) who previously managed cybersecurity at Dunn & Bradstreet and Bloomberg LP, replaces longtime Akamai executive Andy Ellis, who departed in the midst of a major restructuring earlier this year.

Akamai said Gelbord will assume direct responsibility for cybersecurity, information security compliance, and the protection of Akamai’s systems, data, and employees.

Gelbord, a 15-year veteran of leading major security programs, will report to Akamai CIO Mani Sundaram.

Akamai, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has major ambitions in the cybersecurity business.  The company, which rakes in about $1 billion in cyber-related revenue, reorganized its business groups in February and created a Security Technology Group to better monetize the Akamai security tools and services portfolio.

In an interview with SecurityWeek ahead of assuming the CSO seat, Gelbord said Akamai’s place in the network and cloud ecosystem brings a higher sense of urgency to the job.

“Whenever you're a security vendor, there’s a higher expectation that your security program is mature. There’s a heightened level of awareness everywhere,” Gelbord said, noting that the ability to ‘dog-food’ your own products brings all kinds of new opportunities to improve the company’s security posture.

[ SEE: For Microsoft, Security is a $10 Billion Business ]

“For me, it’s especially exciting to get in the kitchen and see howthe sausage is made, so to speak, and be able to leave my footprint on that.  I’m excited about that,” Gelbord added.

He said the public wave of ransomware incidents, supply chain breaches and zero-day attacks can leave CISOs feeling overwhelmed but argued that the increased awareness is also making it easier to have honest conversations with top-management and board of directors.

“There’s been a continuous build-up of things. The recent events [Solarwinds, Colonial Pipeline, ransomware] have been eye-opening.  All of a sudden, for some industries that haven’t really dealt with these kinds of attacks, there’s this ‘holy smokes’ moment where they see the real impact,” Gelbord said.

The new Akamai security chief said the wave of major incidents is bringing global governments closer to the cybersecurity trenches. Gelbord said the U.S. government’s influence on things like SBOMs, multi-factor authentication, and zero-trust will help drive improvements across the board.

“I’m bullish on the long term prospects of [SBOMs and software transparency].  But I do think that we're entering a couple of years where interconnectivity is outpacing the ability of everyone to wrap their heads around the enormity of it all.” 

“When you look at AI and machine learning and how that enables the automation of [attacks], I think we’re entering a point of vulnerability in our society that we don't fully understand and that we're not fully prepared for,” Gelbord added

“Certainly governments can play a part, but industry and the ecosystem in general are going to have play a really, really big role in determining how we collectively, as a society, calibrate the right level of risk around that.”

Gelbord sees the new leadership perch at Akamai as a place to leave an imprint. “Akamai plays a vital role in maintaining a reliable and secure internet. I look forward to contributing to its future success at this unique moment in history.”

Related: For Microsoft, Security is a $10 Billion Business 

Related: Colonial Pipeline CEO Explains $4.4M Ransomware Payment

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Ryan Naraine is Editor-at-Large at SecurityWeek and host of the popular Security Conversations podcast series. Ryan is a veteran cybersecurity strategist who has built security engagement programs at major global brands, including Intel Corp., Bishop Fox and Kaspersky GReAT. He is a co-founder of Threatpost and the global SAS conference series. Ryan's past career as a security journalist included bylines at major technology publications including Ziff Davis eWEEK, CBS Interactive's ZDNet, PCMag and PC World. Ryan is a director of the Security Tinkerers non-profit, an advisor to early-stage entrepreneurs, and a regular speaker at security conferences around the world. Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanaraine.