McAfee – Saviour of your Data and Privacy!

McAfee - Saviour of your Data and Privacy! Celeste Fralick

McAfee – Saviour of your Data and Privacy!

Some entrepreneurs leave their mark in the world by introducing unique and unmatched products and services. In this special edition of The Enterprise World, Enterprising Women of the Year 2021, we celebrate and commemorate one of the most inspiring and dynamic women entrepreneurs of this era.

In today’s world, having a digital presence is extremely crucial for a company’s survival. The security of an organization’s valuable data and information is also important. Cybersecurity is not only important for organizations but also for everyone who uses a computer, laptop, etc.

In today’s conversation, we learn more about McAfee, one of the most trusted and leading antivirus software companies.

In conversation with Celeste Fralick, Senior Principal Engineer and Chief Data Scientist, McAfee. Let’s hear about her insights and professional journey.

Tell us about the company

McAfee began in 1987 as an anti-virus software company. Throughout its long history, it has acquired companies, been public, been acquired (by Intel Corp., in 2014), spun out to be private (2017), currently public, divested its Enterprise business (summer 2021), and recently entered into an agreement to be acquired by an investor group led by Advent International Corporation (“Advent”) and Permira Advisers LLC (“Permira”). McAfee is a pure-play consumer online protection company and is led by Peter Leav, CEO and President. Throughout its evolution, McAfee products, technology, and people continue to be proven leaders in the cybersecurity industry.

What are the products or services the company focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?

McAfee (NASDAQ: MCFE, “McAfee”), is a global leader in online protection for consumers. Over the years, it has enhanced its consumer product portfolio with McAfee® Web Advisor, Safe Family, Gamer Security, Secure VPN, and Total Protection, among many others. McAfee protects the digital lives of 20 million subscribers.

Our services differ from those in the market due to the significant number of sensors across the globe. Using Machine Learning, Deep Learning, and AI, McAfee utilizes advanced technology for online protection, combined with humans-in-the-loop to achieve the best in security. Our products protect a customer’s personal information an average of ten months earlier than similar monitoring services, detecting data breaches before they become an identity fraud issue.

Please tell us about your team.

Our AI research team investigates advanced analytics and seamlessly translates the results to products. Via a secured, layered approach, AI helps to augment the human to detect adversaries in sub-second time. Our team is mission-oriented to maximize detection accuracy, optimize performance for the consumer, and minimize false positives and false negatives of any online security threat. 

Please brief us about your professional experience

My professional experience began 41 years ago developing Statistical Process Control (SPC) in hardware. I continued to develop – both educationally via a Ph.D. and professionally – my statistical and data science prowess in 8 different markets. I have always worked with data, statistics, and technology. While I have skirted software in previous positions, this is my first time in a software-solution company, but my unique background brings a diversity of thought to our security innovations.

I am the Chief Data Scientist and Senior Principal Engineer for McAfee, beginning in 2015. I focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) research in the Office of the CTO. 

What are the key achievements of your business journey?

I have been fortunate to work for excellent people in excellent companies, learning continuously in a field (e.g., statistics, AI) that was in the shadows for many years. Since about 1998, data science has exploded because of the Cloud, Moore’s Law, Big Data, and our need to be continuously connected. I was very lucky to know the right thing at the right time in different domains, transferring my knowledge to the security space. Yet, there is still so much to learn, even after a long career.

I’ve had some intriguing accolades, but my favorite was being named to Forbes “Top 50 Women in Technology” (Dec 2018). Others include CDO Magazine’s “Global Data Power Women” (2020, 2021) and, “10 Most Game-Changing Women Leaders of 2021”, Mirroreview (Oct 2021). I am incredibly humbled by these recognitions.

Technology-wise, I’ve collaborated on many patents and journal articles in security and AI. However, leading JEDEC’s JC-13 consortium for developing global microcircuit test specifications was truly exciting. The group consisted of ~150 member companies, with only about 10 women. I’m hoping that I have laid the groundwork for other technical women including minorities and the disabled, especially in cybersecurity where women are under-represented. Cybersecurity impacts all of us and diversity is critical for innovative solutions.

Any client experience you would like to highlight?

I’ve been toe-to-toe with angry generals because I wouldn’t release a chip product that failed a test. I’ve met face to face with the FDA to convince them to develop medical software standards, and a welcomed advisor to NIST (US National Institute of Standards and Technology) to develop AI standards. In my AI security role, my favorite clients have been those that ask questions that are three years ahead of today so I can mitigate risks ahead of time using AI solutions.

Which one is your favorite quote? 

“Genius is only great patience.”

(G.Buffon, about 1745).

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