Asked once how she would explain her job at a dinner party, Google’s Vice President of Security Engineering Heather Adkins replied, “I keep the hackers out of Google.” Adkins is also on fire about keeping hackers out of other critical sectors through her work as deputy chair and ranking industry representative on the public-private collaborative Cyber Safety Review Board at DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The 15-member board, established in February, serves a deliberate function to review major cyber events and make concrete recommendations that would drive improvements within the private and public sectors. The unique and valuable collaboration of government and private sector members provides a direct path to the secretary of Homeland Security and the president to ensure the recommendations are addressed and implemented, as appropriate. The board undertook its first review with the Log4j open-source software vulnerability that was disclosed in December 2021, and in a July report stressed that it exposed organizational challenges in cyber threat response including resources, confusion and even “patching fatigue.”
Adkins is a 20-year Google veteran and founding member of the Google Security Team. As Senior Director of Information Security, she has built a global team responsible for maintaining the safety and security of Google’s networks, systems, and applications. She has an extensive background in practical security and has worked to build and secure some of the world’s largest infrastructure. She is co-author of Building Secure and Reliable Systems and has advised numerous organizations on how to adopt modern defendable architectures.