Information assurance alumnus at the forefront of cyber security in the national banking industry

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With 20 years experience in computer security one might have expected Devin Bhatt ’13 to teach in Norwich University’s Master of Science in Information Security & Assurance program instead of being enrolled in it.

“As you know, the technology continues to advance at a very fast pace. The risks emerge also in a similar fashion,” says Bhatt. “I sensed the need to get a formal degree in information assurance/information security even though I have been successful so far. Going forward into the future I wanted to make sure that I have the right credentials.”

Bhatt recently became the chief information security and privacy officer at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a bureau under the United States Department of the Treasury. In addition to burnishing his professional credentials, Bhatt wanted to set an example for his two daughters and those who worked for him. “I wanted to be a role model for my two daughters as well as the security team that I lead,” says Bhatt. “I wanted to give them a very strong message that if I can do it, with my responsibilities and demands on my time . . . after this many years, you should also think about this very seriously and make it a plan to continue to further your education formally.”

Bhatt decided to pursue Norwich’s information assurance master’s program while serving as vice president and chief information security for WEX Inc., a global provider of business payment processing and information management solutions. His professional security field experience includes financial services, telecommunications, and travel. In 2007, he received CSO magazine’s Compass award for innovation for building a best-in-class security and compliance program.

“I have a natural or inherent and continuous desire to learn and investigate more,” says Bhatt, who earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from India’s Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. “In security/ information assurance you do need to investigate the technology; how things work, certain ways they work, how things break, or how criminals may take advantage of vulnerabilities in your systems. Having that natural curiosity to learn more and more about technology and cyber breaches is essential in cyber security.”

Bhatt says the Norwich program met or exceeded all of his expectations, especially the dynamic interactions with his fellow students and the faculty, the demanding research, and the opportunity for academic work directly related to his day-to-day responsibilities.

At the OCC, Bhatt leads the operation providing information security for a federal agency that regulates more than 1,700 national banks and federal savings associations and about 50 federal branches and agencies of foreign banks in the U.S., representing roughly two-thirds of the assets of the nation’s commercial banking system. He views his role at the OCC as a “logical transition” even though he moved from the private sector to government.

“I’m still in the same field. . . what has been my forte in the past. It feels great jumping from the regulated entity to the regulator side,” says Bhatt. “I couldn’t speak more about how excited and thankful I am for this opportunity.”

Bhatt says the “most fulfilling part” of his current duties is the “tone” established by its top leadership.

“Our comptroller, Thomas Curry, has been very supportive and has increased the level of cyber security awareness within the organization as well as in the industry,” says Bhatt. “Everywhere he gets the opportunity, he talks about cyber security.”

Not surprisingly, Bhatt is an enthusiastic advocate for ongoing training and education on cybersecurity.

“It’s worth every hour you put in, every penny you put in it,” he says “I advise everybody very strongly to continue to educate themselves on cyber security and the technology, which continually evolves and changes, and [as] new risks emerge. “