Kate Hartshorn – Protegrity
- Written by: David Harry
- Produced by: Matthew Warner & Gavin O’Connor
- Est. reading time: 4 mins
For Protegrity and Kate Hartshorn, ransomware attacks and cybersecurity breaches are a question of when, not if.
“We assume the bad actors are going to permeate firewalls and steal customer data, so we provide fine grain protection of the data,” Hartshorn says.
The attacks are costly, too. IBM estimates the average ransomware attack costs an organization $4.54 million—and that amount doesn’t include the ransom an organization has to pay to regain control of its data and digital operations. Cybersecurity breaches cost an average of $4.35 million—and IBM’s 2022 report on cybersecurity says 83 percent of organizations studied have had more than one breach and 60 percent of the organizations passed the costs of the attacks on to customers.
Protegrity’s platform and software are designed to protect data and personal information wherever it’s stored to mitigate privacy risk, Hartshorn says. As vice president of global legal affairs, she provides legal guidance and counsel as the company expands globally. She negotiates and manages customer contracts, she’s helped open new entities on several continents and she’s currently helping Protegrity better protect its internal data, too.
While helping Protegrity show its ounces of protection are worth much more than the pounds of cure needed for cyberattacks and ransomware, Hartshorn learned a lot, too.
“I started as a newer attorney at Protegrity and made sure I was enmeshed in the business and learning as much as I could about the software to help understand the business points of the contract,” she says. “It’s never stagnant, the data and security world is ever-changing, you have to stay apprised of concerns and regulations.”
Platform and partners
Headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, Protegrity was founded in 2004. Its platform is used by organizations in a wide range of industries, including financial services, retail, health care, transportation and hospitality.
Protegrity’s partners include Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Snowflake, Collibra and Microsoft Azure. The platform assists customers in complying with personal data and privacy protection laws and regulations such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation or the California Consumer Privacy Act.
According to Forrester Consulting, the platform can enable customers to enjoy a 126 percent return on investment in three years. That’s achieved by enabling customers to deploy new services faster, which drives efficiencies in security and compliance and eliminates infrastructure costs.
Hartshorn has helped establish Protegrity entities in Portugal, Australia, India and Singapore and ensured the entities comply with the regulatory requirements and employment law matters in their respective countries. She also sits on the executive leadership team and works with outside counsel to protect Protegrity’s portfolio of more than 100 patents.
Hartshorn partners with Protegrity’s sales, marketing and finance teams to draft and negotiate contracts and says the process is a balancing act. Customers are frequently large Fortune 500 companies and she needs to ensure the contracts are negotiated in a timely fashion and further the company’s growth while ensuring agreements align with what the customer can accept.
“I need to be the conduit for sales and operations to help grow the customer base while making sure I effectively mitigate risk to Protegrity,” Hartshorn says.
As part of her work with Protegrity’s HR team, Hartshorn spent 2022 auditing the company’s employment contracts in 14 different countries to ensure they complied with applicable labor and employment laws.
She says there are separate employment agreements for each country Protegrity operates in because of differing regulations, such as specific notice provisions for any terminations. Also, some countries do not recognize noncompete agreements and other countries have information requirements relative to tax, pensions and contributions be addressed.
“It’s important to acknowledge that as a corporate generalist, there are areas in which I am well versed and others where subject matter experts are needed,” Hartshorn says. “It’s imperative to recognize any knowledge gaps and seek outside counsel to fill those gaps to ensure I am fulfilling my duty to protect the company.”
As she oversees Protegrity’s information security team, Hartshorn is currently working with it to help the company obtain ISO 27001 certification, an international standard for information security that demonstrates an organization’s commitment and ability to manage information securely.
She has also begun a data governance project to ensure internal data is compliant with applicable privacy requirements and that compliance policies are in place.
Learning never ends
Though Hartshorn is from a family of lawyers, she says she wasn’t set on pursuing a legal career. Instead, the Connecticut native earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Skidmore College while also playing on its women’s soccer team.
However, she heeded her father’s advice when he said the benefits of a law degree—especially from an analytical perspective—would always be valuable in any future occupation, and continued on to law school.
Hartshorn earned her J.D. from Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in White Plains, New York, in 2013 while also serving as a legal intern at Health Care Navigator LLC. After graduating, she joined the company as a staff attorney.
In January 2016, she was named assistant general counsel and then joined Protegrity in August 2017 as associate legal counsel. In November 2019, Hartshorn was named director of legal affairs and then senior director of legal affairs in January 2021. She was promoted to her current position in December 2021.
Hartshorn, who recently moved to Charleston, South Carolina, says she loves to do anything outdoors. However, she’s also looking to give back to her community and has recently begun creating a nonprofit foundation with a goal of helping families with patients at local children’s hospitals pay for care and services that aren’t covered by their health insurance.
“I’m really excited to continue to be part of Protegrity’s success,” Hartshorn says. “I have gained so much knowledge professionally since I joined the company, but it’s important to never be stagnant and continue to be a voracious learner, it’s the only way you grow.”
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