Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Beauty of Awareness

Article printed in Access Control & Security Systems - Security Solutions.Com

The Beauty of Awareness

Feb 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Sandra Kay Miller
In the realm of ever‐changing technology, keeping skills up‐to‐date is critical,
especially in large data‐driven enterprises. Veteran trainers who have worked their
way through the multitude of platforms, hardware and business trends can also be
found on the frontlines of securing — both logically and physically — multi‐national
manufacturers, communications and entertainment giants and arms of the United
States government.

That has been the career path for Ron Clement, who was first introduced to
computers during his nine years in the Air Force. After leaving the service, he began
attending college in New York for accounting, but then “fell in love” with computers.
“I started working with computers at the help desk level,” says Clement who is
currently a risk management and compliance consultant at Est®¶e Lauder Companies
Inc. Clement hints at his age, admitting to teaching DOS on dual floppy machines
with green screens at telephone service provider GTE.

On his most recent project, Clement was tasked with creating a security awareness
program for Est®¶e Lauder, the 70‐year‐old skin care, makeup and fragrance
company based in New York City. Recently, Clement had the opportunity to meet
with the head of Est®¶e Lauder's physical security. “We talked about the touchpoints
of our two groups and how we're going to work together. For instance, using
Internet portals, hotlines and security awareness campaigns, we can feed a lot of the
physical security information — there's a lot of stuff we can do together.”
Despite the trend to centralize security operations, thanks to Clement's vast
experience, his goal is to develop a somewhat de‐centralized program so individual
countries will have some autonomy in order to accommodate multiple languages
and cultures. “They are in 130 countries, so it's going to be pretty huge. It will run
the gamut from posters to brochures to becoming part of employee orientations,”
explains Clement, who believes that awareness is the first line of defense because
people can prevent so much if they are informed and allowed to help.
It's the latest episode in a career that has progressed in lockstep with developments
in IT technology.

When Clement moved on earlier in his career, GTE had become Verizon, and he was
a senior systems analyst going from teaching one to all 18 of the classes they offered
through corporate training for software packages such as Lotus, dBase and
WordPerfect. Clement also gathered invaluable hands‐on training when he assisted
in the build‐out of a new corporate headquarters in Dallas. “We laid wire, set up the
LAN, printers, computers — the works — so 3,000 people from all over the country
could move to Dallas and work.” Clement stayed in Dallas for a few years, delving
deeply into network architecture and administration.

But then an opportunity lured him in a new direction: Microsoft. At the height of the
dot‐com boom, Clement went to work for the rapidly growing Redmond, Wash.,
giant as a technical account manager, handling enterprise installations. However,
taking the new position also meant a cut in pay for him at the time. “I really enjoyed
learning all the Windows stuff and networking, but at that time, they were big on
stock options, and didn't pay very well,” he says, following with an explanation of
how his two years at Microsoft paid off later. “My plan was take a step back to take
two steps forward.”

With Microsoft certifications in high demand, so were Clement's skills. He signed on
as a technical consultant with point‐of‐sale provider NCR, traveling throughout the
world deploying and securing networks for clients such as hotel chains.
With a market downturn, many of the projects on which Clement was working were
either reduced or eliminated, so he turned back to teaching. “I've always done some
sort of teaching either at a night school or technical college,” he says, ticking off a list
of commonly taught networking, security and UNIX classes. His skills caught the eye
of Chicago‐based Accenture, a large consulting firm, but when the market dipped
again, Clement found himself unemployed. “Now I was on the streets with a
boatload of skills and a list of certifications behind my name.”

Being resourceful, he returned to teaching full‐time at Central Piedmont Community
College near his home in Charlotte, N.C., where he taught Microsoft and Cisco
certification courses until becoming the program chair of the department, a job that
included putting together the curriculum and schedules and hiring other

Wanting to get back into hands‐on technical work, Clement began studying
computer security. Not long after that, 9/11 occurred and the demand for security
was on the rise, so he hit the road again, teaching week‐long CISSP boot camps
across the country.

But after a few years, Clement sought continuity in his work schedule and began
contracting with large enterprises such as Bank of America, Wachovia, Time Warner
Cable, Walt Disney World and the Department of Defense for security projects.
Moving through various organizations, Clement soon recognized the growing
convergence between physical and computer security. “Physical and logical security
are joined at the hip in a lot of places. Hackers are walking into buildings, picking up
laptops and walking out or walking into a building and plugging their laptop into a
jack in an empty conference room and gaining access to the corporate network,” he
says. “You know, once somebody is in your building, they can do pretty much
anything.” Furthering his observations, he points out that in the CISSP course there
is an entire section devoted to physical security, including locks, doors, fences,
security guards, wire installation as well as business continuity and disaster

Next on Clement's career agenda is to obtain his auditor certification. “I really enjoy
the security arena — especially standards, data classification, risk management and
policies,” he says, justifying his decision based upon the growing demands of
regulatory compliance. “Compliance is another piece that fits into security. It was
never figured into the bottom line because it didn't generate any income. Security
was ignored. So now we have things like SOX, Visa, PCI and all the other compliance
regulations. Companies are forced to implement security, and a lot of them are
scrambling because they never did it before. Now they have big budgets, otherwise
they're going to have big fines if they don't comply.”

As he becomes more experienced in compliance issues, Clement has found that most
of the regulations boil down to basic security practices.


About Me

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Divorced, 3 Children, Information Security Professional.