Johnson & Johnson CISO Marene Allison: ‘You can’t sit on today’s technology’ | #itsecurity | #infosec


The oath Marene Allison took years ago to defend and protect the United States is the same tenet that now guides her work maintaining cybersecurity at one of the largest pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturers in the world.

“It’s like I raise my hand [in an oath] every morning and the mission is to protect and ensure the viability of my company in the cyber world,” says Allison, who has been the CISO at Johnson & Johnson for more than 12 years. “It’s important to understand I’m here to protect this company that is focused on human healthcare. It’s a very, very important mission that I take seriously every single day.”

Allison is accustomed to missions.

She was a member of the first class of women to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, earning her Bachelor of Science degree. Her ties to the august academy have remained strong, becoming a member of the Board of Directors of West Point Women, and a Military Academy Liaison Officer/Congressional Coordinator for the State of New Jersey. And before joining the corporate world, she served as a Special Agent in the FBI, working on undercover drug operations in Newark, N.J. and terrorist bombings in San Diego. 

Securing Johnson & Johnson

For the past dozen years, though, Allison’s focus has been on securing Johnson & Johnson’s worldwide information technology systems and business. It’s a big job. 

The 136-year-old U.S.-based company is a household name, manufacturing and selling ubiquitous products like Tylenol pain medication, Band-Aid adhesive bandages, Listerine, and Aveeno body lotion, along with orthopedic implants and medical devices. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2019, the Fortune 100 company garnered global headlines for developing a COVID vaccine that quickly became a critical tool to protect people from the highly contagious and deadly disease. 

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