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JetBlue: Biometrics initiative will improve travel experience

JetBlue is learning how to use security to reduce friction rather than adding to it.

In this video filmed at the recent MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, Eash Sundaram, chief digital and technology officer at JetBlue Airways, explains how the company's biometrics initiative is aimed at enhancing customer experience and enabling "frictionless travel."

Sundaram, the winner of the 2019 MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award, also explains why the company is investing in partnerships to tackle the evolving risk landscape.

He also sounds off on the board's role in enterprise cybersecurity, and how advancements in AI and machine learning are helping enterprises mitigate evolving threats.

Editor's note: The following transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.

What role does cybersecurity play in building the smart enterprise?

Eash Sundaram: When you think about an industry like JetBlue in aviation, physical security has always been the most important thing for us. As the advancements in technology roll out, cyber is becoming an increasingly challenging thing for us to manage. We've invested quite a bit, both in terms of advancing our capabilities in [cybersecurity], but also [formed] partnerships with various agencies and technology providers to learn and react to situations as it arises.

What's the role of biometrics in security? Has JetBlue undertaken any biometrics initiative?

Sundaram: When you think about a personal, helpful, simple travel experience, we want to reduce friction in every travel point in the travel ribbon. And when you think about biometrics, not only it's very safe and secure, it relieves that stress in the travel ribbon by minimizing touchpoints.

As the advancements in technology roll out, cyber is becoming an increasingly challenging thing for us to manage.
Eash SundaramJetBlue

JetBlue has launched a biometrics trial in partnership with Customs and Border Protection across five major airports in North America: JFK, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood International and Orlando. We are super excited to see progress in this space, making the travel very easy to go through and a personalized experience for our crew members and customers.

Biometrics not only improves the safety and security of our customers and crew members, but also offers a frictionless travel [experience] for our customers.

But anytime when we implement a toolkit like biometrics, we take a lot of care in terms of preserving the privacy of our customers. We've spent a lot of time learning more about this technology and also the privacy aspects of this technology.

What role does AI and machine learning play in enterprise cybersecurity?

Sundaram: AI and machine learning can absolutely help with cybersecurity. As you think about large corporations and even with social media type scenarios, there's billions and billions of transactions and no human being can manage them effectively. Advancements in machine learning, AI and compute are going to help us mitigate those risks significantly in the future.

What role does the board play when it comes to enterprise cybersecurity?

Sundaram: The primary responsibility of the board is to manage governance and risk. And as cyber becomes an increasingly prominent risk for large corporations and even small and medium businesses, the board has a very significant role to manage that risk efficiently.

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