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Building a brand new company from an 125-year-old organization

 

by Darin Franklin, Head of InfoSec Information Protection, Chicago 

 

I joined Philips Lighting in October 2015, just before the organization was spun off from Royal Philips NV. It was a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a brand new company that had been established for 125 years. Since all the IT and information security infrastructure would be refreshed, we had the opportunity to abandon legacy systems and build the environment around our specifications. It was a unique challenge.

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Safeguarding information and protecting people’s work

I’ve spent 16 years in information security roles, even though my degree is in accounting. I have a passion for IT, particularly Information Security and my knowledge comes from a deep desire to learn in this field. In my previous job, I worked for a global manufacturer of silicon-based products. The company was similar to Philips Lighting in terms of revenue and global distribution of resources.

 

Protecting our investment

When I started at Philips Lighting, I had the opportunity to examine the IT infrastructure and make my own decisions about what information protection systems to put in place. With all new systems and services in Philips Lighting, many of which had cloud computing components, we needed to develop new lighting technologies and solutions to protect all that information. With the right infosec tools, we can safeguard our investment, capitalize on our innovations for as long as possible, and maintain our competitive advantage.

 

Three-pillared approach

My work is based on three pillars: people, process and technology. In terms of people, I raise awareness about the value of information and help users understand their role and responsibilities in keeping it secure. Process involves different levels of information classification and how we apply them. It also includes how we secure information through encryption, leakage prevention and file level protection. This in turn relates to the three technologies we use: A Microsoft Office plug-in for classifying documents; a data leakage prevention tool that screens documents and alerts users before they distribute them; and future use of a digital rights management tool that assigns the right to read or copy a document.

 

Building relationships

All this is a new way of working for people. As a result, one of my main challenges is driving education and awareness. My goal is to show the benefits of these tools and help people protect their work and the value they bring to Philips Lighting. That’s why a key component of my job is building relationships with groups such as the Legal department, Research, HR and business group leaders, so they understand the value of information protection.

 

Managing a global team

Information security extends across the global organization, and I have two direct reports here in the US and I’m currently recruiting two more in the Netherlands and India. I collaborate with my overseas colleagues mainly through email and Skype. Philips Lighting believes in flexible working, so if I need to have a video conference with a colleague in another time zone, I can arrange my schedule around it and still have a great work-life balance.

 

Keeping up with technology

With cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and bring-your-own-device, the information security landscape is constantly changing. That’s why my managers encourage me to maintain contacts with external peers, attend appropriate conferences and take training courses. That way I can keep abreast of new infosec technologies and stay ahead of the threat environment.

 

It’s an exciting time to be at this company. A lot of my friends work for well-established organizations that aren’t very dynamic. At Philips Lighting, we’re spreading our wings, developing new strategies and programs, and achieving our goals. There’s nowhere else quite like it.

   

It’s an interesting challenge to build the IT and information security infrastructure in a company with an established history and corporate culture.”