Interview

AI-TechPark Interview with the Vice President of Security Strategy & Threat Intelligence, Venafi – Kevin Bocek

Venafi

Kevin Bocek from Venafi talks about the critical role of cybersecurity in today’s digital world and how Venafi differentiates itself in this competitive market.

1. Tell us about your role at Venafi. How much of your typical day is involved in innovating cyber security tech for your customers?

I oversee Venafi’s technology ecosystem and threat intelligence initiatives. This means I get to spend 100% of my time focused on innovation, from working with the world’s largest developers, such as HashiCorp, to new start-ups, like Akeyless. I’m also continuously looking for new machine identity threats that others have not found. Overall, it’s really not work for me, it’s fun.

2. What are the applications or rather opportunities you seek to have with your services?

We’re industry leaders, Venafi is forging ahead with the future of machine identity management. We’re already living in a world where the number of machines, such as those in the cloud or our devices – far outnumber humans. So, Venafi is inventing technology that will protect machine identities at scale and speed, as well as drive open source innovation. This way, the entire community benefits.

3. How did you define the vision of Venafi? How did you approach your first 100 days at Venafi?

Venafi’s vision has always been shaped by our team and customers, we’re incredibly fortunate to work with them. Ultimately, there are two actors on networks, clouds, and the Internet – people and machines. The world was quickly evolving and every machine must have an identity. Attackers have understood this well, but many organizations do not.

Just like every new team member, when I started at Venafi I got to spend my first 100 days to orientating myself and observing. You don’t have blind spots, so it’s an amazing time to built foundation. For example, I spent time observing what attackers were doing, how they were abusing machine identities and their capabilities. I also saw how our customers were under attack.

This time definitely shaped my work every day since. I’ve now been on the Venafi team for over 8 years.

4. What are some of the industries that Venafi caters to?

We live in a digital world and every business is quickly becoming a software company. Venafi delivers innovative solutions for the world’s most demanding, security-conscious Global 5000 organizations and government agencies. This includes: banks, payment providers, insurance providers, retailers, cloud providers, airlines, consumer brands and manufacturers.

5. What are some of the unique lessons you have learnt from analysing your customer behaviour?

When I work with our customers it’s amazing to see the speed of innovation that developers are driving across industries. This is creating incredible opportunities for innovation, but it also challenges our customers to protect their business and own customers.

There is friction, developers are going faster, but security teams need proper protection. This can often can slow down business. Venafi’s unique role in the world is to unify developers and security to so they can go faster, safely.

6. What are some of the distinctive features of Venafi Trust Protection Platform? And how do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

Customers often say that the Venafi Ecosystem is the most important reason they work with us. Afterall, the Venafi Ecosystem is built on futureproof customer success. With our Ecosystem, we bring together the largest innovators, like HashiCorp, F5 and CyberArk. And it’s not just about technology innovation, it’s about working together to support customers and find new opportunities.

In addition, we’re fuelling new innovation with our Machine Identity Management Development Fund. Back in 2018, we put aside $12.5 million to establish the Development Find. Since then, over 40 developers from Australia to Israel to Netherlands have received sponsorship, and we’re especially excited about all the open source innovation available due to the fund.

All of this and more is what makes Venafi so unique.

7. Thoma Bravo recently announced strategic growth investment in Venafi. Can you elaborate more on the same?

Venafi is now valued at over $1.1 billion. Thoma Bravo is a great investment partner to fuel our next stage of growth, especially as we add more SaaS product offerings and innovate more opensource technology with Jetstack. Ultimately, Thoma Bravo and Venafi believe that machine identity management is the most important cybersecurity trend of this decade.

8. What are some of the common pain points that your customers commonly approach you with?

Customers often look to Venafi to help stop painful outages that come as a result of a machine identity expiring. When machine identities expire, like a TLS certificate, websites go down, transactions stop processing, clouds go offline and more. This is a symptom of a much larger problem.

One thing is certain: there is an ever-increasing number of machine identities to protect. Venafi helps customers first get visibility in to machine identities, gives them intelligence to solve the problem and automation to protect machine identities at machine speed.

9. What advice would you like to give to the upcoming cyber-security based tech start-ups?

Most important things for to new cybersecurity innovatos to understand are: what are threats of the future and how will adversaries exploit them. This of course is difficult, especially since we’re designed to protect and our adversaries look to attack us.

But, thinking like an attacker, and understanding how to defend, are special skills that cybersecurity innovators master.

10. Can you give us a sneak peek into some of the upcoming product upgrades that your customers can look forward to?

Venafi’s donation of Jetstack cert-manager to the CNCF was accepted last November. The Jetstack team is working on new enterprise level capabilities and supporting opensource cert-manager community development. These new features are important to thousands of customers who are looking to grow use of cert-manager in product Kubernetes, OpenShift, and Istio service mesh deployments globally.

11. Which is the one cyber security tech breakthrough you will be on the lookout for in the upcoming year?

We’re quickly approaching the time when quantum computers will break the cryptography used make to machine identities unique. This will threaten over time the entire trust in everything digital, from the Internet to credit cards.

But there is good news: innovations are coming in post quantum safety. One especially important factor will be NIST standards based on open and global competition, and innovation from start-ups like Crypto4a and ISARA. Stay tuned!

12. What is the one quote that has stayed with you throughout your professional life?

I’m not very good at remembering quotes, so I’m looking ahead to find what’s new. 

For more such updates and perspectives around Digital Innovation, IoT, Data Infrastructure, AI & Cybersecurity, go to AI-Techpark.com.

Kevin Bocek

Vice President of Security Strategy & Threat Intelligence, Venafi 

Kevin Bocek is responsible for security strategy and threat intelligence at Venafi. He brings more than 16 years of experience in IT security with leading security and privacy leaders including RSA Security, Thales, PGP Corporation, IronKey, CipherCloud, nCipher, and Xcert. He is sought after for comment by the world’s leading media such as Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post,Forbes, Fortune, BBC, Süddeutsche Zeitung, USA

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