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Sony Names Ex-DHS Official As Its CSO

Philip Reitinger joins Sony's newly created post of chief security officer
Philip Reitinger, the former deputy undersecretary for national protection and programs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has been hired as Sony's new vice president and chief security officer. He will serve as the company's corporate executive in charge of global information security and privacy.

The long-awaited announcement of who Sony would name to its newly created CSO position comes at a time when the global entertainment giant is trying to get back to business as usual after a series of consecutive breaches that began with a targeted attack on its PlayStation Network by members of Anonymous. Sony expects the financial fallout from the breaches to add up to more than $178 million this year. It's also fighting some 55 class-action lawsuits.

Reitinger will oversee Sony's information security, including locking down its services (think Sony PlayStation Network). He will head up privacy and Internet safety in the company, as well. According to Sony's announcement today, he will also work "closely with key headquarters groups and working in partnership with the information security community to bring the best ideas and approaches to Sony."

The former DHS official also has held security posts at Microsoft, the Defense Department, and the Justice Department.

But even with Reitinger's impressive federal and private sector cybersecurity pedigree, it won't be easy to transform Sony into a security-minded culture.

Mike Rothman, president of Securosis, says "good luck" to Reitinger. "He has his work cut out [for him]. It seems like a total cultural overhaul is in order, and he's got a pretty short window," Rothman says. "I'm familiar with a couple of other environments suffering high-profile breaches. They spend a lot of money quickly, but never change the culture. So a few years later, it's the same old, same old. That will be his biggest challenge."

The good news is that Reitinger has experience working within a large organization like DHS. "He's used to working in very large, very bureaucratic environments, which will help. But on a good day, Sony will be a very tough challenge," Rothman says.

In an interview with Dark Reading last year, Reitinger said national cybersecurity is no "command and control" effort, but, rather, a coordinated, distributed operation that includes cooperation among government entities and the private sector.

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