CB Customer Spotlight: Q&A with Chick-fil-A’s Geoffrey Cole

ID CARBONBLACK:264030E9590563436A4A8027317AC457
Type carbonblack
Reporter Hannah Roy
Modified 2019-07-30T16:40:32


In his 3-year tenure at Chick-fil-A’s Atlanta headquarters, Geoffrey Cole has already made a big impact in the company’s cybersecurity posture. Starting in systems engineering, Cole then moved to managing the endpoint security suite for both the corporate hub and satellite restaurants, and now works as a cybersecurity consultant for the company at the support center in Atlanta. Chick-fil-A serves communities across the country with more than 2,400 restaurants, operating as one of the largest family-owned businesses in the United States. Cole embodies the company’s philosophy of helping others through his personal mission to bridge the gap between business and IT by modeling emerging threats and providing informed risk assessments to project owners. He strives to build security measures that are better for business; creating efficient processes that reduce the threat landscape without compromising on business demand for speed and ease of access.

Read on to see how Cole has quickly begun to make his mark in the cybersecurity industry.

  • Tell us about Chick-fil-A's process for choosing Carbon Black.
    In late 2012, Chick-fil-A had identified that there was malware getting onto employees’ systems. During that time, our solution to mitigate any potential threat was to re-image the device. Traditional antivirus was months behind where it needed to be in order to prevent these types of events. Consequently, we realized we needed to be looking for an application controller to support our business needs. The team evaluated various security vendors and chose Carbon Black’s application whitelisting tool, CB Protection. CB Protection is a robust product that is architecturally sound. It is capable of doing so much and we’ve benefited greatly from having it in place. We also have CB Response in an MSSP format.
  • What is the value you’ve seen since using Carbon Black?
    In addition to providing assistance during investigations, Chick-fil-A has received substantial benefit in mitigating malware and preventing costly, time-intensive reimages. CB Protection has and continues to provide value both in preventing and monitoring potential exploitations in our environments.
  • How did you know you wanted to work in this industry?
    Since childhood, computers have always been of interest to me. In high school my friends and I identified different vulnerabilities in the school’s network, so we created LAN parties and other events to bypass the existing controls that were in place in the network. It was initially fun, but the school’s IT department found out about our shenanigans and gave us an ultimatum: be disciplined or come work for us. I became a student volunteer for the IT department doing technical support, and ever since then I’ve had a strong appreciation for cybersecurity and have been really engaged in IT.
  • How has the industry changed since you first started?
    The industry has definitely transformed over the last decade and continues to scale rapidly with business demand and how companies and organizations are changing. I would say the biggest indicators of this are the adoption of cloud solutions, more organized automation and the introduction of supervised and unsupervised machine learning for business functions. From a cybersecurity perspective, only in the last five years has the industry really blown up to be recognized as something that is essential to business. As we move toward the future, IT and cybersecurity will be more intertwined and will become the new norm for organizational investment.

One of the most fundamental things that we can really do as a global cybersecurity community is share knowledge in order to advance and grow together. It is imperative that organizations share best practices and become stewards for the community at large. * What was the value you received from attending and presenting at CB Connect?
CB Connect was a very valuable conference from both a business perspective as well as personally. As a young professional, it was valuable for me to meet with senior security professionals, learn from them and gather unique perspectives on how I can better support my users, the business and the community. From a business perspective, it was helpful having my peers and the Carbon Black team around because we were able to brainstorm and identify ways to better support our users. The conference solidified our positive relationship with Carbon Black and our appreciation of the Carbon Black products we use today. * What's one piece of advice you would want to share with someone trying to start a career in cybersecurity?
If you want to succeed, you need to be agile. In this industry, you and your peers must be able to adapt and swiftly respond to the evolving threats to your organization. In addition, the more you learn, the more you will be able to grow. Having a healthy relationship with your peers and collaborating with and learning from people who may have more experience than you will positively influence your ability to practice security and make effective, agile decisions.

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