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Nov 17, 2021

The Power of Certainty: Day One of Tanium Converge 2021

The future won’t wait, and we must move forward to adapt

By Tanium Staff

If the past two years have shown us anything, it’s that we must be ever prepared to adapt to a changing world. With both home and work lives upended, we’ve all needed to find new ways to manage a myriad of unforeseen events.

Small and large businesses alike have seen a rise in cyber threats. Security and operations teams are still managing large numbers of staff working from home, including themselves. All of this alongside the ever-forward marching of technology changes (think digital transformation, cloud migrations and virtualization). It’s been a lot to handle, but we’re learning together how to do it better.

Converge 2021 is shining a light on how we partner with you to better prepare for the unknown and adapt to any change that comes your way. Tanium wants to help your teams align around the truth of your estate and enable you to leverage the power of certainty to build and automate best practices and fix problems fast.

Day one of Converge kicked off with an inspirational message from Tanium’s co-founder and CEO Orion Hindawi about our mission to efficiently manage and secure everything with a chip while also being the most customer-oriented organization that you’ve ever engaged. Next, Hindawi and Rob Carter, CIO of FedEx, discussed how this critically important company adapted quickly during the pandemic to help everyday people and businesses worldwide.

Next up was Rachel Wilson, a former terrorist hunter for the NSA and now Head of Cybersecurity and Data Protection at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, to speak with us about the importance of continuously sourcing and monitoring the truth to lead us through the noise.

Bret Taylor, President and COO of Salesforce, then spoke with Hindawi about the company’s transformation during the pandemic to support hybrid and work from home for its employees. Finally, author and professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb encouraged us to think ahead to make better decisions in an uncertain world.

Standing still is riskier than moving forward

During the pandemic, FedEx’s Rob Carter watched the company spring into action, delivering packages for everyday people as well as vaccines and personal protective equipment (PPE) over the globe. “We connect people and possibilities around the world,” Rob explained, and spoke about facing the same supply chain issues as everyone else. “We had to immediately adapt.”

Orion asked Rob about the biggest challenge of scaling up over time. Rob explained: “Legacy enterprise companies miscalibrate between the risk of standing still and moving forward. We don’t put nearly enough on standing still, and too much on moving forward.”

FedEx, like almost any company that’s been around for more than a minute, has legacy infrastructure and tools that are past their prime. Rob explains that “what got us here won’t get us there,” and now like many companies, the work is to simplify the model and move vertical apps into horizontal services. We really do have to build our businesses to be future-ready.

Orion provided the analogy that Tanium is the diet and exercise of IT — there are no magic applications that will grant you a fast path to good health. Rather, you continue to upgrade your tech stack and create best practices to follow and then automate those good habits. Rob agrees that it’s culturally difficult to change the way people work but that Tanium is an incredible tool to help teams find the truth and be on the same page while working to keep it secure.

Want to find out what FedEx package Rob himself received that made him super happy this past year? Another fun reason to watch this keynote! We hope you’ve received a delivery of happiness too.

Finding truth amidst the noise

Can you handle the truth? Yes, yes, you can. Rachel Wilson, leading cybersecurity efforts her entire career, emphasized the importance of truth when dealing with threats at scale. At Morgan Stanley, it’s her job to ensure that systems, networks, and applications are “battle-hardened” and are as “hacker-proofed as possible” before being sent to the field. Truth — verifiable, constantly monitored truth about endpoints and software — is critical to everything that they do.

Wilson states, “I can’t protect my data if I don’t understand where it is, and I don’t understand how it has been provisioned.” It’s not just banks anymore, she explains. If you leave your estate open to these opportunities, you are a vulnerable target for ransomware and once in they will figure out how to monetize the breach. Whether it’s North Korea normalizing bank hacking as a business strategy or the organized crime syndicates in the US that are responsible for 70 percent of the malicious cyber activity — these threats are financially motivated.

Wilson also notes that 2021 has been the year of the critical vulnerability. Hackers are out there ready to reverse engineer those patches and look for businesses that are still vulnerable. Tanium offers you the power to be certain about the state of every endpoint and stay on top of a moving target. How well do we know the truth about our environment? It really does come down to that.

Enabling employees for a digital reality

Next, Orion spoke with Bret Taylor, President and COO of Salesforce, about the company’s transformation during the pandemic to support hybrid and work from home for its employees. “We call it the digital headquarters.” Taylor thinks we are just getting started with flexible and digital work, and we are all adjusting to these new arrangements, both the good and the bad.

Taylor explains that the company has realized that ensuring employees’ success comes first, even before its customers. By driving partnerships with Tanium, Slack, Tableau and others, Salesforce can ensure it onboards 1000s of employees around the globe digitally just as well as we did in person while also improving the overall employee experience. Hindawi looks to their partnership as an example of how employee problems can be managed in a more fluid, friendly manner, without requiring a phone call to an office no one works in anymore.

Hindawi asserts that this digital transformation requires IT support and adaptable systems, and Taylor concurs that it’s a huge onion to unpeel: a ton of IT work, automation and systems integrations. Agility really looks to be key in preparing for the unexpected and managing through multiple black swan events. Taylor emphasizes that they are serious about “investing in platforms that will provide that agility going forward.”

Staying one step ahead of the game

To wrap up Day One of Converge, Chris Ochynski, Director of Special Projects at Tanium, sat down with Nassim Nicholas Taleb to discuss how his research into managing uncertainty and random events can help those of us in cybersecurity and IT operations.

While it seems that random events are complicated, Taleb states that we don’t need to understand them; instead, we need to focus on understanding our own vulnerabilities. Taleb explains that developing techniques to manage random events is helpful.

One example is to make risks more visible to all involved stakeholders because everything is better when we all have skin in the game. Another being to play out what you would do if you did get hacked. Taleb explains that if you know you can be harmed (but not when, where, or by who), then you can devise a solution. Do your own audit and mitigate the vulnerabilities you uncover.

Ochynski and Nassim also cover the risks associated with supply chains, and Taleb asserts that the software industry lacks the accountability offered in other domains to protect companies. He points to more standards as being helpful as our industry matures, and notes that lawsuits are a powerful motivator to make America safer when companies aren’t moved to improve the world on their own.


Stay tuned for key takeaways from Day Two of Converge 2021!

Register now to join the event and watch the on-demand content.