Recap: Q&A With Chris Kovel, CTO, PJT Partners

  • By Maddie Rosenthal
  • 02 November 2020

In case you missed it, Chris Kovel, Chief Technology Officer at PJT Partners, recently joined Robyn Savage, Customer Success Manager at Tessian, for a Q&A about what threats are top of mind and how Tessian helps PJT Partners keep data secure.

While you can watch the full video on-demand, we’ve compiled our notes for a high-level overview of their 30-minute discussion.

Want to learn more about Chris or PJT Partners? Skip down to the bottom of the page. And, if you want to be the first to know about future virtual events, subscribe to our newsletter. 

4 things we learned from Chris 

  1. There are three “types” of threat actors. The outsider with intent, the insider with intent, and the well-intentioned employee. In terms of what keeps Chris up at night, it’s often the well-intentioned employee who sends misdirected emails. 
  2. While most of us have fired off an email to the wrong person, that doesn’t mean there aren’t serious consequences. There are. If data is leaked (especially in highly regulated industries like Financial Services, Healthcare, and Legal) organizations could face hefty fines for non-compliance, lose customer trust, and suffer a damaged reputation. But…
  3. 90% of emails don’t contain sensitive information. That’s why it’s so important that security and compliance leaders develop a process for classifying data as a part of their larger data loss prevention strategy. 
  4. PJT Partners uses Tessian for both inbound and outbound email security to detect and prevent misdirected emails, insider threats, and advanced impersonation attacks. 

To find out a bit more about what’s top of mind for Chris and how Tessian fits into his overall security strategy, Robyn asked Chris several questions. We’ve summarized them below. Don’t forget, you can watch the full interview here.

Q. Are there certain employees who you view as particularly risky or at-risk?

“There are absolutely higher value targets that we have to pay more close attention to… But the controls we put in place are for the firm, right? They’re put in place to help everybody.  The leak can happen at any level. It could be a low-level junior banker, it can be someone in the technology department, it can be a partner of the firm.”

Q. How has COVID affected your organization and your approach to cybersecurity?

“Bankers and everyone else are using technology more than they’ve ever used it before. That means devices are a key for doing business now, whether it’s pulling up a quick video or sending documents. But email still actually accounts for the lion’s share of their communication. Fortunately, Tessian has some really great tools in place to protect users on devices in the same way they’re protected on desktop.”

Want to learn more about how to keep your devices secure? Check out our Remote Worker’s Guide to BYOD Policies.

Q. Shifting to inbound, what features make Tessian an especially appealing and effective solution at PJT?

“Frankly, Tessian is extraordinarily clever in how it detects advanced impersonation. The amount of suspicious emails that Defender flags for us is quite staggering.”

“You can spoof an email address in any way, shape, or form so having a product that basically says, “this one email doesn’t look like the others” or “this email likely isn’t actually coming from this person” is really helpful to the larger firm and individual users. In-the-moment warnings are helping our employees get better at actually recognizing which emails are legit and which aren’t and our administrators can help them work through it.”

For more insights and personal anecdotes, watch the full video now

About Chris

Chris Kovel is the Chief Technology officer at  PJT Partners.

Prior to joining PJT Partners, Chris spent the previous 25 years at Morgan Stanley in the technology department. In Chris’ last role at Morgan Stanley, he was primarily focused on Artificial Intelligence, Analytics and Data for the Wealth Management division.  Over the course of the 25 years at Morgan Stanley, Chris developed significant technologies for Investment Banking, Capital Markets, Wealth Management, Research & Sales Distribution. Chris holds two patents for banking and trading technologies. Chris led the project and team that won the 2018 Banking Technology Award for Artificial Intelligence for the Next Best Action implementation. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Chris worked for Lotus Development Corporation. Chris received his BA from Skidmore College

About PJT Partners

PJT Partners is a premier global advisory-focused investment bank headquartered in New York City. Their team of senior professionals deliver a range of services to corporations, financial sponsors, institutional investors, alternative investment managers, and governments around the world. 

Maddie Rosenthal