As CIO for the Williams Group, I think a lot about how to secure our information and intellectual property – and we clearly generate a ton of it.

During a typical race weekend, our Formula One team generates about 60 gigabytes of telemetry and 80 gigabytes of additional data, delivering a total of 140 GB that requires analysis in order to determine each critical decision made throughout each practice session, qualifying, and the race on Sunday.

That’s just the half of it.

Throughout qualifying and races, our team also needs to relay that massive amount of data back to our UK headquarters in real time for analysis. All the while, our engineers working in the race pits are accessing streams of information on their laptops to make on-the-spot recommendations on the timing of pit-stops, making fractional front and rear-wing adjustments, and to constantly tune vehicle performance.

So when I say that our company thrives on its intellectual property, this is far beyond being a business truism: IP is our organization’s lifeblood and it’s behind our success winning 16 Formula One championships.

As we’ve digitized our operations, we now face escalating threats from cyber criminals. Each year, attackers show increased sophistication and skill in changing up their tactics. We know there’s a steep price to pay for failure. If any malicious outsiders were to get their hands on our car designs or any other of our IP, it would put Williams’ competitive advantage at dire risk.

A breach would also risk dealing a blow to our reputation for safeguarding the closely-held secrets of partners and customers who regularly share their intellectual property with us. In addition to our own Formula One race car division, Williams Advanced Engineering group also works with a range of other industries.

For instance, we partnered with Jaguar Land Rover to produce the Jaguar C-X75. Film-goers may recognize it as the vehicle used by one of the bad guys in the film, `Spectre,’ chasing James Bond through the streets of Rome. We also do work in aerospace, medical sciences, defense and a range of other industries where partners rely on us to maintain a safe and secure supply chain and meet strict security requirements governing the handling of their most valuable information.

Keeping Users Secure

I often get asked what keeps me up at night. There's only one thing I really worry about: Losing data. It’s what I hate the most.

That job has become increasingly fraught given the multiplicity of digital endpoints that we now need to protect, and exacerbated by the fact that our teams are frequently on the road, where they connect via mobile devices in order to access Williams’ intellectual property. Roughly 60% of our workforce regularly now works away from the home office and they need to be able to download data safely from anywhere in the world.

Given the different types of data and intellectual property we’re regularly involved with, we put a premium on finding a way to ensure that our users remain secure, no matter where they work and no matter what networks they use.

In the past, we only had antivirus to protect the endpoints. There was no intrusion prevention or detection system at all. So last year, we partnered with Symantec to help us deal with these myriad endpoint security needs and fill the gaps in our network defense.

Symantec’s breadth of intrusion prevention and detection technology made an immediate impact. Our first race of the 2016 season marked the first time that we had endpoints that I felt were fully protected. With Symantec Endpoint Protection and Endpoint Encryption, which were deployed at the same time, everyone on our team who went to Australia for that race had fully protected endpoints they could trust.

Endpoint protection involves a lot more than just loading antivirus onto our systems. Here’s an example:

One of our laptops was stolen during the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in September 2016. In the past, we would have had to escalate that kind of incident to the boardroom since the theft of data kept on those machines could potentially compromise our IP. Not this time. Symantec’s technology completely enveloped all the data stored on the stolen device in the protective shield. The thieves had one of our machines in their possession, but they had no way to access what was inside. Symantec’s endpoint protection technology had made it impossible for outsiders to access any of our information.

We’ve also extended Symantec Endpoint Protection to safeguard our virtual machines and cloud, where a lot of our intellectual property gets stored. That came in handy when attackers subsequently tried to hack into our cloud. Symantec Endpoint Protection detected the attempt and sent out an alert. The upshot: We foiled their attempt to access our data, bring down our systems or use them as bots, which is probably what they were trying to do.

The partnership with Symantec has translated into a vastly improved risk management posture–which further enhances our reputation and enables us to give customers and partners even more confidence in our ability to protect their IP. Symantec has equipped Williams with the necessary tools and technology so that we can turn to our customers and assure them that, "Your data is safe with us."

By: Graeme Hackland