Customer Q&A: How Pokémon’s DPO turned the global gaming company into a security-minded, data-driven enterprise

Most of us associate Pokémon with the yellow, fuzzy anime character who’s augmented reality mobile game launched a tizzy over San Francisco and the rest of the world in July 2016. But you might not realize that the gaming company, and franchise, generates an enormous amount of intellectual property. From trading cards to character designs and rich media files that house new game ideas–like every business today, the Pokémon Company International is a trove of data.

Today, we’re excited to publicly announce that the Pokémon Co. International has chosen VERA as its enterprise standard for data security. As part of this announcement, we sat down with John Visneski, Pokémon’s director of information security and data protection officer, to talk about the challenges of turning a highly profitable, global gaming company like Pokémon into a security-minded, data-driven enterprise.

Responsible for brand management, licensing, and marketing, The Pokémon Company International is harnessing Vera’s data-centric security platform to protect IP and other sensitive content once created and shared amongst employees, partners, and third-party contractors worldwide.

Tell us about your career. What were you doing before you joined Pokémon?
JV: Before joining Pokémon, I spent nine years serving in the U.S. Air Force. My tour included responsibility for engineering command and control solutions involving difficult relief efforts surrounding Hurricane Ike in 2008 and the Haitian earthquake in 2010.  Managing humanitarian crises like those can shape an understanding that people care about things they hold dear, and private information for themselves and their children rank right near the top.

What’s the key to growing a successful security culture?
JV: The key is making it as humanly as easy as possible for your employees to behave and do their work in a secure manner, without too many extra steps or hoops to jump. VERA is one of those tools that can help you do that. A lot of security professionals spend a lot of time saying no to things. At Pokémon, our strategy is that we’re problem solvers and business enablers first and security professionals second. If there’s a solution or tool that we can put into place that makes people’s lives easier and their jobs more effective, while also being secure, it makes IT happy and employees happy.

How does VERA help your employees, designers, and third-party contractors at Pokémon?
JV: VERA has all the gains I need as a security professional, but all the granular control over our data that is required by the business. Whether that’s around impending regulations like the GDPR or intellectual property, personal data, financial data, that level of granularity of being in control of that data makes our business more effective and compliant.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a security professional?
JV: Some of the biggest challenges I face is navigating my own security stack, in my own environment.  While I might have control over critical files while they’re in my environment, once they’re out in the wild there’s a very real possibility that our information can fall into the wrong hands.  With Vera, being able to secure my information at the file level, and then being able to follow those files as they leave my environment, gives me the peace of mind that even when something’s not in my security stack it’s still safe.

“Giving that level of control to our designers, or our financial team allows them to do their jobs at the speed our business demands.”

Can you describe how VERA is used to protect everyday work?
JV: When a designer send new artwork to a third party, they want to make sure that the artworks doesn’t leave the corporate perimeter, they want to have dynamic control of who gets to access it, when they get to access it, for how long can read it, so on and so forth. VERA allows us to apply those policies in real-time so that the designer can be assured that the right information is getting to the right people. By giving that level of control to our designers, or our financial team allows them to do their jobs at the speed our business demands.

In your opinion, what does the future look like with Vera?
JV: As a security team, we’re going to try and automate as much of the security stack as possible, so that our employees can concentrate on what humans do best: provide context. As a brand we have a lot of really exciting products coming over the horizon and allowing those humans to concentrate on driving the business in a secure way is going to be what helps us be successful in the future. A partnership with VERA is going to play a central role with both the automation and helping our business be successful for years to come.

A huge thank you to John for sitting down with us to share his insights.

For more information on how we’re helping creative and design teams do what they do best: build award-winning content without data loss or leaks, check out our media industries page here.

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