Speed Data: Exploring the Virtual CISO Role With Robert Blythe

Bob Blythe talks about the virtual CISO market, gen AI, and where the future of tech is headed.
Megan Garza
2 min read
Last updated May 29, 2024
Megan Garza and Robert

Welcome to Speed Data: Quick Conversations With Cybersecurity Leaders. Like speed dating, our goal is to capture the hearts of CISOs with intriguing, unique insight in a rapid format for security professionals pressed for time.

Joining us this week is Robert “Bob” Blythe, Principal for Beacon Cyber, LLC, whose information technology career spans over two decades. Bob’s foray into virtual CISO leadership is an exciting one, and he shared his take on where the future of tech is headed. Read the full post below to learn why understanding your customer is the most important aspect of cybersecurity and why ignoring AI would be a big mistake.

Blazing a virtual CISO trail

Plenty of big names are associated with WWE, but perhaps one of the most impressive is Robert Blythe.

For 20 years, Bob oversaw threat intelligence, data privacy and compliance, technology risk management, and cybersecurity operations at the professional wrestling leader, skills he took with him when he opened his own shop, Beacon Cyber, LLC.

“A lot of organizations are struggling with new regulations and privacy laws; the cyber threat landscape is growing, and a lot of companies are struggling with how to implement and maintain cybersecurity programs,” Bob said.

I started looking at the industry and understanding the need for virtual CISOs.
Bob Blythe, Principal for Beacon Cyber, LLC

In his new role, Bob helps consulting companies build their virtual CISO, also known as fractional CISO, division.

“It’s a big market right now, and a lot of companies are getting into it,” he said.

The cybersecurity pro began his career in the late ‘80s after noticing the push in data privacy within the IT landscape. Since then, he has developed a passion for working in security and data protection.

“It’s exciting, it’s ever-changing, you’ve constantly got to keep up to date, and you’ve got to keep educating yourself,” Bob said. “I like that kind of living where you constantly have to be reading and understanding where the new threats are.”

Understanding your customer

However, more than being technically adept, Bob said the most important thing to focus on in cybersecurity is the customer.

You have to listen to the client’s needs and understand their risk posture, specifically when it comes to cybersecurity or data privacy.
Bob Blythe, Principal for Beacon Cyber, LLC

“But you also have to follow your gut and understand through experience where companies may have blind spots," he said.

One area Bob encourages his customers to embrace is artificial intelligence.

“Generative AI is going to be more adopted,” he said. “Cyber criminals are going to use it in their ways, and cybersecurity practitioners need to start using it in automating their processes, making them more adept to what’s coming down the pike.”

A lot of companies may feel they have the controls and programs in place, but they have to be fine-tuned and tested.
Bob Blythe, Principal for Beacon Cyber, LLC

Staffing for success

Bob surrounds himself with professionals who bring a wide range of skills to the table, and when hiring, he said it’s most important to have a solid cultural fit.

“The team is the most important,” he said. “Being able to collaborate, brainstorm, whiteboard, put your ideas out there.” And while cybersecurity smarts are essential to the job, Bob says character trumps tech.

“I can teach anybody technical, but teaching people soft skills, either you have that or you have to build that.”

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