Why Mark Jackson Is My New Hero … and Slick Willie Sutton Could Have Been a Stellar CISO

Turns out all banks aren’t the same. I didn’t learn that from precocious kids or talking animals on TV. I learned it when I met Mark Jackson last week. Mark is the CISO at Westamerica Bank. He’s six foot six and looks like Chris Mullin in his prime. He extended his hand to shake and I thought he was going in for a post-up fadeaway hook. Mark has five kids ranging in age from seven to 21 which explains why he speaks with the authoritative tone of a drill sergeant. He also knows more about data security and loss prevention than anyone I’ve ever met.

I asked Mark several questions to understand how his team manages monitoring, intrusion detection, and GLBA compliance. He wasted no time replying and his answers were insightful without sounding rehearsed – like he was drawing up a pick and roll play for nine year olds. Most CISOs take simple ideas and make them complicated. He did just the opposite. I asked two questions that captured the tone of the hour we spent together.

What is the hardest part about your job?

“What makes my job tough is that people and devices are always coming and going. It’s tougher every day to distinguish the good traffic from the bad. We’re talking about terabytes of data and patterns that change every minute. We were monitoring logs and metrics manually before but even my sharpest guys can’t catch everything. Hey, my job’s to keep us out of the headlines and you guys are my insurance policy.” 

What business objectives drove the SIEM tool selection process?

“Our business is consumer banking and the board and investors look to me to understand three basic things: what we own, who’s using it, and when it’s being attacked. What we wanted was a tool that makes it so easy that anyone on my team can make changes on their own and give me the availability and compliance reports I need each quarter for auditors. It sounds straight forward but we’ve had 15 vendors come through that door and not one could do it all until we met AccelOps.”

I was inspired. My first reaction was to ask my bank if they had a “Mark Jackson” and whether or not their strategy for protecting my money is as credible.

We know from our retail, MSP, healthcare, financial services, and public sector customers that staying a step ahead of rogue actors is particularly critical when payment transactions are involved. We also know that every day the hackers are getting more sophisticated, applications and networks are getting more complicated, and detecting attacks requires more machine intelligence. It’s like criminal mastermind Slick Willie Sutton said in 1951 when asked why he robs banks: “…because that’s where the money is.”

Our team is developing products that deliver on the challenges Mark described. More important, we’re innovating with the next decade of apps and threats in mind. Our vision is simple, our mission is complex: generate insights from data that are actionable and automate the detection and resolution process while abstracting the complexity of the underlying technology.

Got a Mark Jackson story? Inspire me! I’m always looking for customers doing amazing things with our products.


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About Accelops

AccelOps provides the leading IT operations analytics platform for the modern data center. The virtual appliance software monitors security, performance and compliance in cloud and virtualized infrastructures – all from a single screen.


AccelOps automatically discovers, analyzes and automates IT issues in machine and big data across organizations’ data centers and cloud resources, spanning servers, storage, networks, security, applications and users. AccelOps’ patented analytics engine with cross-correlation and statistical anomaly detection sends real-time alerts when deviations occur that indicate a security or performance-impacting event.


The AccelOps platform scales seamlessly and provides unmatched delivery of proactive security and operational intelligence, allowing organizations to be more responsive and competitive as they expand their IT capabilities. 

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