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Unilever’s Bobby Ford Discusses How to Secure Your Digital Business

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Unilever’s Bobby Ford Discusses How to Secure Your Digital Business

Due to COVID-19, companies struggled to balance security and privacy while digitizing business. Unilever’s Bobby Ford discusses the steps his company took to secure its digital assets.

WSJ Video,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Unilever CISO Bobby Ford discusses strategies for protecting digital assets during a pandemic.

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COVID-19 restrictions produce additional headaches for operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) managers of large digital networks. Unilever VP and CISO Bobby Ford and his team handle data at 300 manufacturing plants, which produce household brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Dove and Vaseline that are used daily by over 2 billion people. The Wall Street Journal’s David Uberti interviews the veteran cybersecurity expert about how Unilever monitors and protects its massive digital assets in pandemic times.


Unilever CISO Bobby Ford recommends prioritizing cybersecurity threats according to individual company needs.

Ford identifies the two main threats as: 1) attacks on data designed to degrade or destroy it, and 2) attempts to impact or disrupt company operations. Because Unilever produces physical products at 300 manufacturing facilities, Ford prioritized operations over data.

Digital transformation, the heart of industry 4.0, addresses anticipating and exceeding consumer needs. “Democratizing the data” enables intelligence-driven decisions, but increased system functionality creates more vulnerabilities to attack. For example, today’s cell phones offer much more functionality than the phones of 50 years ago, but their added features make them less secure.

Ford developed a specific framework that allows Unilever to take necessary risks in moving products to consumers.

Ford established a dedicated team that travels to manufacturing facilities to assess their security networks. The team first creates an operational technology (OT) asset registry...

About the Speaker

Bobby Ford is vice president and chief information security officer at Unilever. David Uberti is a cybersecurity reporter for The Wall Street Journal.

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