Interview: Sheenagh Almeida, Bank of America, Security Excellence Awards finalist

'Innovation is at the heart of all we do'

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Interview: Sheenagh Almeida, Bank of America, Security Excellence Awards finalist

With the rising frequency and complexity of cyber threats, cybersecurity has become a paramount concern for not only governments and organisations, but also individuals.

Computing's Security Excellence Awards celebrate the achievements of the IT industry's leading security companies, solutions, products and personalities - the ones who are keeping every other part of the industry operating.

This year's winners will be announced at a live awards ceremony on Thursday, 27th April in London.

Bank of America is a finalist in four categories: Security Training Programme of the Year; Security Team of the Year; Security Woman of the Year; and Security Rising Star Award.

We caught up with Sheenagh Almeida, in the running for Security Woman of the Year, to ask her more about the company's priorities for the next 12 months.

Sheenagh Alemida, Cyber Threat Intelligence & Defense Executive, Bank of America
Sheenagh Almeida, Cyber Threat Intelligence & Defense Executive, Bank of America

Sheenagh is Cyber Threat Intelligence & Defence executive at Bank of America, responsible for the end-to-end intelligence cycle, identifying potential exposure to active and novel cyber threats, monitoring the health of bank defences and cyber-related financial sector partnerships. She is based in Camberley and oversees a team of global technologists.

Sheenagh also serves as the Technology and Operations Market Leader for Camberley and is an active sponsor of community volunteer events and enhancements to the campus.

Computing: Please provide some background on Bank of America for our readers. 

Sheenagh Almeida: Bank of America is one of the world's leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 67 million consumer and small business clients.

Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately three million small business households through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services.

What makes you different from other technology companies? 

SA: At Bank of America, we make the necessary investments in our people and technologies to keep our clients' information secure and maintain their trust. This investment includes more than $1 billion in cybersecurity alone, and a team of nearly 3,000 experts working around the clock.

Our Global Information Security team recorded more than 1,000 patent applications in 2022 and was named "Hot Security Company of the Year " by Cyber Defence Magazine. The team protects the data of one of the world's largest financial institutions, covering every individual, small- and middle market business and large corporation we serve, across every product and service we offer in the US and across more than 35 countries.

What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

SA: Innovation is at the heart of all we do. We innovate to provide industry-leading capabilities that improve our clients' financial lives and to help create the best place for our teammates to work. Our focus on innovation ensures we remain at the forefront as a financial institution as we continue to deliver Responsible Growth for our clients, shareholders and teammates. In addition, our leadership in patents ensures we are continually innovating for our clients.

Our innovation was recognised in Fortune, who recently named Bank of America on their list of America's Most Innovative Companies.

What are you working on this year?

SA: The Cyber Threat Defence framework has had many successes, with more than 500 unique items in active follow up to reduce potential risk. Moving forward, we plan to provide a deeper connection with threat intelligence and how it interrelates with our defence teams at a rapid pace.

I am working on combining two of our organisations to create a united Cyber Threat Intelligence and Defence Organisation. The goal of this effort is to achieve operational efficiencies with a focus on speed to turn intelligence into action. We are continuously striving to prepare for and avert crises and are doing this in a tangible way to anticipate how controls will respond to threat actors.

Additionally, we are expanding the quality assurance function that not only pinpoints problems but drives change to make impactful risk reduction and ensure evolving conversations are taking place. No matter how great our processes are, we can never be stagnant, and our quality assurance teams provide an ideal way of driving the right discussion.

Why are events like the Security Excellence Awards important to the IT industry?

SA: Collaboration is one of the best ways to make our solutions stronger - gathering individuals with diverse thoughts and backgrounds allows us to think more creatively about how to secure our environments. We are increasingly finding that successful risk management is about creativity: creativity on what our controls can do, the new processes that can support it, and the new technologies that we need. Participation is critical in raising the security of the whole sector. By attending and presenting at conferences, we can change the way that the financial services industry is thinking about security. Security is a unique challenge where partnership with the industry is essential for ongoing defence success.

The Security Excellence Awards will take place in London on the 27th April. Click here to view the shortlist and here to book your table.

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