SAP appoints ex-Yahoo security boss in new CSO role

SAP has appointed former Yahoo security chief Justin Somaini as its new CSO as a new study claims to show that firms underestimate the risks SAP security poses to profits.

SAP announced the appointment of Somaini on Monday, which it said was effective from January 1.

"The newly created role of CSO at SAP highlights the relevance of security in a digitally connected world," said Bernd Leukert, an SAP board member in a statement.

Somaini arrives at SAP after a stint as “head of trust” at cloud storage startup Box, which he joined after departing Yahoo in 2013 as its CISO. He’s also served in senior security role at Symantec.

SAP did not explain in its announcement why it waited until today to announce Somaini’s appointment, however it coincided with the release of research by Ponemon Institute that highlights the link between security flaws and threats to company profits.

Ponemon's survey of 600 executives was sponsored by Boston-based SAP Security specialist, Onapsis. The study found that only 35 percent of respondents said they were “very confident or confident” a breach would be detected in within a week of it occurring.

While a week is a long time for a hacker to be rummaging unfettered through a compromised system, it’s also well below the 205 days on average that it took firms to discover an actual breach in 2014, according to security firm FireEye.

However, Onapsis last year claimed that it took SAP 12 months to fix reported vulnerabilities and then six months for companies to deploy them. Google's Project Zero team offer vendors three months to report or disclose a bug before going public with a flaw its researchers have found.

Announcing Somaini’s appointment, SAP said that “early detection is becoming increasingly important, as is the development of tools to efficiently eradicate the threat of security breaches.”

SAP spokesman Hilmar Schepp told CSO Australia the announcement of Somaini’s role was unrelated to the Ponemon report. Rather, SAP wanted to introduce its new CSO ahead of the RSA security conference next Monday. SAP will be present there and Somaini will be available for customers to talk with, said Schepp.

“We wanted to introduce Justin exactly prior to this conference to emphasize that security is such an important topic for SAP,” said Schepp.

Onapsis' will also be at RSA where it will deliver a talk about “taking control of cyberattacks on SAP”.

Alexander Polyakov, a researcher with ERPScan, another security firm that has uncovered multiple flaws in SAP software, questioned whether Somaini had been hired to protect SAP products or SAP’s own systems.

Read more: The week in security: Warnings on open-source spinoffs, US-Europe privacy compromise

“The CSO's role is more about securing the company's assets rather than taking care of a product's security, so I don’t think that this new hire can somehow impact the security of SAP products,” said Polyakov. He added that he didn't know SAP's organisational structure.

Schlepp however said Somaini’s role will straddle both product and internal IT systems.

“Justin's role focusses on both: securing SAP's products and our own IT infrastructure. And this is exactly what we meant to say with ‘newly created role’,” said Schepp, referring to reports that SAP had hired its first CSO.

For the record, one of SAP's former CSOs was Dr. Sachar Paulus.

“In the past our CSO was more to secure SAP's own infrastructure rather than overseeing to secure the products. And with our own transformation becoming a cloud company this role is even more important,” he said.

ERPScan's Polyakov recently told CSO Australia that SAP’s response to bug reports had improved over the past five years. In 2007, he said, SAP had one person responsible for security response, but today the SAP Security Response Team had dozens of “highly skilled” security personnel worldwide.

With data increasingly being stored in the cloud, it’s critical to be able to evaluate and manage the security of cloud solutions. Dropbox's Solutions Architect team are teaming up with the Symantec Information Protection group to discuss the latest industry best practices.

Register here for the February 25th webinar on* Managing enterprise cloud security.

Join us at the CSO Perspectives Roadshow in March.

  • Hear from International keynote speakers:Robert Lentz, and Graham Cluley,
  • A Security Awareness stream
  • 18 different interactive Security Exchange discussions

Join CSO for a day of networking with your peers, engaging and discussing topics relevant to you, hearing from some of the top worldwide IT Security leaders in the market and attending the exhibition floor to win some amazing prizes.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags OnapsisFireEyePonemon InstituteCSOCSO AustraliaGoogle's Project Zerorsasecurity flawsJustin SomainicyberattacksYahoosymantecSAP

More about CSODropboxFireEyeGoogleIT SecurityRSASymantecYahoo

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Liam Tung

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place