Q&A WITH WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING CIO GRAEME HACKLAND

In a world where data drives just about everything, securing that data has become a top priority—and a top challenge—for organizations of all types. Few, however, face bigger security hurdles than Williams Martini Racing, one of the world’s leading Formula One racing teams. With competitors ready to do almost anything to gain an edge, industrial espionage is a very real concern. And when you consider that Williams’ data center goes where its drivers go—two racks of hardware travel to 21 countries per year and require 100 percent uptime once they arrive at the track—you begin to understand the magnitude of Williams’ security challenge. Here, Chief Information Officer Graeme Hackland of Williams Martini Racing reveals how the company is using Symantec™ technology to rise to that challenge—and maintain its Grands Prix–winning tradition—in the sport it has dominated for four decades.

Q: With a typical Formula One race weekend generating more than 140 GB in telemetry, video, and other race car analytics, can you describe the challenge of keeping all that data confidential while still making it 100 percent available for the split-second decision-making that ensures driver safety, facilitates compliance with motorsport regulations, and (ultimately) wins races?

Hackland: In Formula One, we’re always thinking about speed—speed of the car and speed of operations. This means that any endpoint security technology must have low overhead on all machines because nothing can slow things down trackside. A longer boot-up process causes real problems in a Formula One context. … If you get a blue screen, no one will wait until you’re ready—the race goes on.

Q: Because data collected at the track can directly impact midrace decisions and lead to the engineering tweaks that tip the scale to victory, how do you keep your competitors—who will do everything from recording car engine noise to determine gear ratios to mining data—from accessing the networks and devices that contain Williams’ all-important intellectual property (IP)?

Hackland: Moving to digital workflows has unquestionably led to much speedier processes—for example, allowing the race tyre engineer to record pressure and temperature at the track using a tablet. However, it also increases risk because that confidential information is now available to anyone who can access that tablet. As we transform ourselves, IT risk changes, which is why we’re working with Symantec to eradicate that risk.

Q: Can you talk a little bit more about how Williams is using Symantec technology to do this?

Hackland: It’s not enough to have just antivirus or intrusion prevention or even machine learning. We also need proactive detection for the latest threats (including ransomware), reputation analysis, behavior monitoring, and more. Through our partnership with Symantec, we’ve been able to embrace a new portfolio of technologies that encompasses all of these.

Q: Williams’ business does not end at the racetrack. In recent years, your affiliated company, Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), has applied knowledge and skills gleaned from Formula One racing (around lightweight structure, aerodynamic flow, etc.) to clients in the aerospace, defense, sports science, and medical fields. How has Williams used Symantec technology to protect WAE customers’ data?

Hackland: Formula One data has a very short lifetime—three, four years, maybe. Williams Advanced Engineering presented us with a very different challenge in that we now have multiple customers in industries ranging from automotive to aerospace, healthcare, and more, and they don’t want their data leaking among project teams. This is one of the reasons we turned to Symantec. If we lose our customers’ intellectual property, our reputation—and therefore our business—will suffer.

Q: How critical is it to both Williams Martini Racing and Williams Advanced Engineering that your security infrastructure provides access to the world’s largest civilian threat intelligence network?

Hackland: One of the major advantages of our partnership with Symantec is access to knowledge of the ever-changing global threat landscape. If you stop thinking about threats, you’re going to be hit by something. Symantec Global Intelligence Network—part of our end-to-end Symantec security solution—ensures that this doesn’t happen by identifying threats globally and sharing that information with Symantec Endpoint Protection.

As for our Williams Advanced Engineering customers, we work on such sensitive projects that protecting customer data and IP is crucial. We’re often called upon to demonstrate that specific security requirements have been met in order to win our customers’ business—and our Symantec solutions enable us to do that.

 
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