Cybersecurity Expert Speaks to GMercyU

October 2, 2019
Cybersecurity Expert Speaks to GMercyU

Throughout his more than 20 years of experience, IT professional Donald Cook has witnessed some alarming security breaches. “What happens if an organization gets hacked?” he said during his presentation for GMercyU last week. “Who gets called first and what happens next?” Without proper protocols in place, a situation could quickly escalate from inconvenient to disastrous.

Cook has dedicated his career to information security, architecting and building global network and security programs in industries from finance to telecommunication. In his “Security Standards and How They Apply to Business” presentation, Cook shared how building an effective cyber and information security program can help middle market businesses in the long term, though it’s not as easy as it sounds.

“Security cannot be a 9-to-5 job,” he said, but emphasized that it can be tough for a small IT department in the middle market to get through their IT work and find the time to put into place preventive security measures. “The fog of more” – an overload of technology, information, and data – can also lead to IT burn out and make cybersecurity a challenge.

Still, the ever more common security breaches of today unfortunately make it priority. “Are you doing backups of your data and are those backups protected or able to be compromised? Are your networks properly segmented and separated? Are you looking at who’s viewing what files?” he said, sharing several ways that businesses inadvertently expose themselves to risks of someone stealing credentials or data, or simply trying to sabotage.

Cook offered a glimpse of what cybersecurity professionals do: review policies within a company’s infrastructure, look at their processes and where data is stored, conduct a vulnerability scan and try to identify gaps in security, offer suggestions on best practices, and help companies prioritize.

Cook also discussed the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cyber Security Framework. The popular framework helps businesses of all sizes protect themselves. It’s based on five principles: identify, protect, detect, respond and recover. Read more about it here.


Donald Cook’s presentation was a part of GMercyU’s Business Leadership Speaker Series for the 2019-2020 academic year. The School of Business and Education is hosting this informational speaker series that features a variety of business experts who will share their expertise on timely topics such as cybersecurity, marketing, investing, and more. All talks are open to the GMercyU community and the outside community.