Optiv Security Adds Three New VPs, Launches Health-Care And Critical Infrastructure Practices

Optiv Security is heading into the RSA Conference with an expanded executive lineup, adding new executives to bolster its security practice around cloud, health-care, critical infrastructure and security solution development.

The $1.5 billion security solution provider, which was formed last year by the merger of Accuvant and FishNet Security, announced last Thursday that it had added JD Sherry as vice president of cloud security and Stuart Solomon as vice president of strategy, innovation and research.

Solomon joins the company from iSight Partners, which was recently acquired by FireEye. He had served there as senior vice president, corporate development, legal and risk. Sherry joins Optiv from security startup Cavirin, where he was CEO.

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On Wednesday, Optiv added further to its lineup, announcing that Larry Whiteside would be joining the company as vice president of health care and critical infrastructure, responsible for launching new targeted practices around the two verticals. Whiteside joins Optiv from electricity company Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), where he was chief security officer.

The additions of the three executives are part of a strategic push by Optiv to build out vertical-focused and specialized practices. It builds on the launch of a dedicated financial services practice last September. Tim Hoffman, executive vice president of worldwide client solutions, said Optiv recognizes that there is a need for organizations to plan, build and run more comprehensive security operations, tailored to their vertical needs.

’Traditional approaches to solving cyber security problems have been largely tactical, with companies purchasing a greater number of point products. But, despite more spending on fragmented solutions, cyber-attacks continue to accelerate in frequency,’ Hoffman said in a statement at the time. "[The new executives are] collaborating with our exceptional domain experts to enable Optiv to deliver even more robust, end-to-end solutions that help our clients solve their cyber security problems.’

In an interview with CRN, Whiteside said health care and critical infrastructure businesses, in particular, need guidance and leadership from a solution provider like Optiv to move away from tactical "firefighting" conversations around security to more proactive discussions.

"My goal is to help them move away from being tactically driven. Once they can move away from that, they will be able to better show their executive leadership how they will fit into the long range plan of where the business is going," Whiteside said.

The timing is also important, with multiple health care and critical infrastructure attacks since the beginning of the year. Most recently, a hospital in California made headlines as it was hit by a ransomware attack that forced it to revert to paper and faxes for days as it struggled to keep up with patient care demands.

Whiteside said he will soon be hiring and training other security experts with similar expertise to build out his team, but could not say how many employees that might be. He said bringing in even more expertise, such as himself, with experience working for health care and critical infrastructure, will go a long way to helping those clients have those kinds of proactive security conversations. He said customers he's talked to since starting on Jan. 28 have been thankful to have someone "they can talk their language to."

"They're really gravitating to it," Whiteside said. "My calendar is just crazy right now because there are so many people who are now starting to know that we have the guy who knows health care and critical infrastructure."

Whiteside said Optiv will not be building out more vertical practices, focusing instead on building its practices around financial services, health care and critical infrastructure. He said this decision is very purposeful by Optiv, who wants to be able to drill down in those three key markets.

"It is a priority…for Optiv because we recognize that those three markets are ones that have a uniqueness to them and there's an opportunity to help those industries out considerably because of the types of programs that we will be able to put in place," Whiteside said. "It’s a very big priority in those three verticals."

Optiv this week also said that it had joined the Identity Defined Security Alliance, a group of security vendors led by Ping Identity that have developed a blueprint for implementing identity-defined security systems. Optiv executives said that through the alliance Optiv can provide customers with more highly integrated security solutions and services.