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Amit Yoran Leaves Dell RSA To Join Tenable As New CEO

Yoran says recent Dell acquisition of RSA parent company EMC did 'not really' impact his decision to leave.

Vulnerability management firm Tenable Network Security announced today that Dell RSA President Amit Yoran will take over as Tenable's new chairman and CEO, effective Jan. 3, 2017. The announcement comes three months after Dell closed on the acquisition of RSA's parent company, EMC. 

Yoran, 46, will succeed Ron Gula, who founded Tenable 14 years ago and resigned from his position as the company's CEO in June. Tenable co-founders Jack Huffard and Renaud Deraison, who have been leading the company during the CEO search, will continue in their roles as president and chief operating officer (COO), and chief technology officer, respectively.

Dell completed its $67 billion acquisition of EMC in September; rumors about the deal first surfaced the previous autumn. Asked if the Dell acquisition had any impact on his decision to leave, Yoran said in a discussion with Dark Reading today, "Not really."

Mergers and acquisitions, says Yoran, are a normal part of business. (He joined RSA in the first place when it acquired NetWitness, a company he co-founded.) Despite his decision to depart, Yoran says, "I firmly believe in the vision [at Dell RSA] and they have an excellent executive team in place to deliver on that vision."

The move to Tenable, he says, is because he's excited about what they do there.

Tenable's core capabilities are in monitoring and improving visibility. One critical aspect of any cybersecurity department, says Yoran, is "what is my level of vulnerability ... Having that mapped out and understood is a foundational capability."

This capability is Tenable's "DNA," he says.

"I think the key to success is knowing who you are and delivering best-of-breed capabilities," says Yoran. Tenable succeeds because it isn't "trying to do 482 things."

Nevertheless, Tenable does plan on growing, expanding into new markets, and releasing new products in the coming months. Yoran explains that this growth, however, will still be aligned with the company's core goal of helping CISOs answer the 'how vulnerable am I' question. As he explains, businesses regularly adopt new technology (IoT, containers, etc.), which exposes them to new vulnerabilities; Tenable will invest in ways to better help customers assess their degree of exposure to those vulnerabilities. 

Tenable raised $230 million late in 2015 to make new investments and completed an acquisition of small San Francisco-based container security firm FlawCheck in October.

Yoran is taking on another role as head business leader of a cybersecurity company - first NetWitness, then RSA, now Tenable - but he is a graduate of the US Military Academy, and was the director of the US Department of Homeland Security's National Cyber Security Division prior to joining NetWitness. Yoran does not seem keen to ever return to the public sector.  

Yoran says, "I appreciate the time I spent [in government]," and appreciates the people who continue to work there, but that he feels he himself can personally can have a better impact on security working in business. "There's more scale, greater agility in the private sector."

As for Tenable specifically, Yoran says the company has "an incredible future ahead of it."

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Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio

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