The Midwest Interagency Regulator Conference

and my panel experience . . .

and the one question that had me stumped, until . . . . 
Another one of those Dan’s New Leaf Posts, meant to inspire thought about IT Governance . . . .


So, if you watch our Facebook page, you’d see that one of the many reasons I’ve been too busy to blog* is because I was on a panel at the Midwest Interagency Regulator Conference, held at the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank each year.  Last year they even had an event description, but that’s probably because last year was focused on Cybersecurity because they didn’t even have a mention on their events page this year!

“I can’t believe we’re making big data seem sexy!”

– A panelist, comparing the discussion from our panel to a panel on big data.

I’m not saying this was the most exciting conference I’ve ever been at, but it was a total honor for me, and I learned a LOT by being there.  If you are a “Dan’s New Leaf” follower, you are noticing it has inspired me to return to my blog*.

I was a bit out of my element.  The conference wasn’t just for banks, and it wasn’t just about cybersecurity.  Centered around networking, I made several new friends.  I was surrounded by people who worked for organizations known by their letters.  I recognized most of federal agencies, but there were several state agencies from Illinois and Missouri, so thank goodness for Google!

For the most part I grouped the audience into three categories:  banks/credit unions, broker/dealers, and insurance.  The insurance regulators were all from the state.  The FDIC, the FED, and the OCC were all there, while the NCUA seemed to be missing as traditional (though there was a state examiner who supervised credit unions).  Opening with a short talk by Anthony Lowe of the FDIC, the “closing remarks” said so much metaphorically:  “I know it’s almost 4, so my closing remarks are these:  ‘let’s adjourn.'”

While networking and eating lunch and listening not only to the panelist, but also the questions from the audience, I learned that . . . . at least between 8 and 4 . . . the regulators truly do care about the people they regulate.  They are keenly aware of their burden on the businesses they affect, and are looking for ways to lighten their footprint as they achieve a win-win between what the community needs and what businesses serving that community needs.

The panel about Big Data did make the biggest impression on me, and not because they kept apologizing that  their talk was “not very sexy.”  I was impressed not only because it reminded me of what we do when monitoring all the millions of records coming off a system’s event logs, but also because the panel sparked some privacy-protection-anti-big-brother feelings.  Our government is authorized to analyze huge amounts of data.  Let’s just leave it at that!

The talk about elder abuse has me worrying about my mom.

The payment systems talk and panel proved how little I know about payment systems, and it motivated me to get my arms around that beast much better in 2016.  But I would like to point out that my question . . . . “As a security guy who has helped several banks recovery corporate account takeovers in the past year, can you tell me why we would want to reduce the clearing time to seconds? . . . . went unanswered.  He said, “I’ll get to that in a minute” and then he never got to it.  I suppose it was because of the vernacular I was using . . . . most of the people there spoke like a guidance reads.  But it could also be that it’s too late to ask that question.

And  then of course there was the final panel, the Cybersecurity and Vendor Management panel, starring:

  • Paul Onischuk, FDIC, IT Exam Specialist, the panel moderator (and organizer, and coach, and cheerleader!)
  • David Glockner, Regional Director, SEC
  • Sebastian Gybels, Supervision Manager, Risk Specialists – IT, Federal Reserve Bank
  • Barret Gobeyn, Vice President of Information Security, Discover Financial Services
  • Dan Hadaway, Entrepreneur-guy and Lover of Risk Management, Infotex

Yeah, that was me, the “security guy” on the end.  I made it clear during my opening comments that I represented the perspective of the little guy, both a small company being examined by regulators and a small company helping small banks who are examined by regulators.

And they all seemed to lean in.  The questions were all about footprint and burden.  The regulators truly do care about the people they regulate.

Barret cracked me up with witty yet thoughtful answers.  I ate a very interesting lunch with Mr. Glockner so I already knew where he was coming from, and Sebastian and I both think in terms of risk . . .  even when it comes to turning on the microphone!  I already knew Paul Onischuk, who speaks at our Cybersecurity Conference in Indianapolis on occasion.  Paul can make anything . . . even vendor management . . . seem interesting.

The questions and answers centered on compliance burden, vendor management, the cybersecurity assessment tool, and SIEM (yes!)  But the last question, posed by Paul, was a difficult one:  “what is the one thing you would recommend any organization try to tackle in the next year?”


Fortunately, it was my turn to go last in the order.  I have to admit I didn’t really hear what the other panelists were saying because, when Paul asked it, I realized it was the one pre-question he had warned us about that I hadn’t yet developed an answer to.  How can you boil all that needs to be done in the next year, in order to stay ahead of the rapidly changing threat landscape, into one “to-do?”

While the other panelists were giving what seemed like brilliant answers, my mind was frozen.  I looked at my things-to-do list for the week.  There were at least a hundred things on it, most of them . . .  fortunately . . . scratched off (the conference was on Friday)!

Suddenly I realized the audience and panel alike were waiting in a short awkward silence as it became my turn and I still had nothing to say.

My mind was frozen.  The list.  One thing.  Focus.

I started talking anyway, while my mind continued to search for an answer.

“Look at this list,” I heard myself say.  “With this many things to do in just a week, how can we reduce the to-do list down to one item?”

Yeah, and there were many things on that list that were NOT crossed off too . . . . looked to be another long weekend.  But hey, at least I was aware of what I had not yet completed.


As if angels were singing in the distant, the thought came to me while I was holding up my to-do list, showing the audience how answering the question seemed impossible.


Of course!  Awareness!

It is the one control!  The low hanging fruit!

It is 9/11’s of the battle.

Which is how I concluded my answer:  “if there is one thing we all can do to improve our Cybersecurity posture, it would be to focus on awareness.  What should we be aware of?  Who should be aware of it?  A how do we make them aware of it?”  At this point I was reminding me, “don’s say ‘guy.’  Say ‘indeed’!”  And then I continued, “Because if you agree with me that we were far more secure the day AFTER 911 than the day before 911, then you’ll agree with me that Awareness is indeed 9/11’s of the battle.”

And . . . at that . . . the clock struck 3:59, the audience clapped, and the conference was adjourned.

Original article by Dan Hadaway CRISC CISA CISM. Founder and Managing Partner, infotex

“Dan’s New Leaf” is a “fun blog to inspire thought in the area of IT Governance.”

Original article by Dan Hadaway CRISC CISA CISM. Founder and Managing Partner, infotex

“Dan’s New Leaf” is a “fun blog to inspire thought in the area of IT Governance.”


* Yes, it has been a long time since I’ve been able to blog. (September, in fact.)  We are busier now than we have ever been before, and obviously Client commitments have to take priority over fun stuff like blogging! Still, keeping in mind the origin of the name of this blog, “Dan’s New Leaf,” when I established the blog in 2010, the purpose was to post at least one article every month. And this is my 23rd article in 2015!  So yes, I need to get back to the typewriter, but I’m still doing better than I was when we founded this blog in 2009!



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