Security 7 Award winners tackle important information security issues


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building relationships
Relationship Expert by Mark Burnette

Making connections inside and outside the enterprise helps foster a healthy security organization and career.



Mark Burnette
  • TITLE Executive director of IT operations and security
  • COMPANY Gaylord Entertainment
  • INDUSTRY Retail
    • A certified public accountant (CPA)
    • Has compliance and security responsibilities for Gaylord Entertainment's 14,000 employees, nearly 5,000 servers and network devices spread across numerous properties, including the Grand Ol' Opry.
    • Collaboration

    Requires Free Membership to View

    • with vendor ArcSight to develop custom event collectors for each Gaylord property, as well as a master collector at headquarters.
    • Organization monitors 79 million security events daily.
    • Events are correlated to 20 that are investigated by Burnette's team.
    • Strategy saves up to 2 GB of storage daily.
    • Distributed collectors provide a measure of fault tolerance.


When I was in high school, a man from Junior Achievement spoke to our class. He told us that many times in the business world, opportunities come about by who you know, rather than what you know. The speaker was not telling impressionable high school students that their education wasn't important. Rather, he was pointing out that education is one of many life experiences needed for success in the business world.

He was right: The ability to build and leverage strong relationships is indeed a key element in the success of today's information security executives. To build a successful program, CISOs must align themselves with many departments within the organization, including internal audit, legal, HR and, sometimes the most difficult, their own IT department. If any of the leaders in these groups don't recognize and appreciate the role of the CISO, the CISO's effectiveness will be significantly weakened, because an opposing senior executive may create roadblocks or delay progress.

Conversely, the ability to build relationships with others within one's organization creates opportunities to advance security initiatives.



This was first published in October 2008

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