Creating community through cybersecurity

From an interview with Jared DeShields, Chief Information Security Officer, Williams

When many people hear the word cybersecurity, it can sound like a foreign language that is difficult to comprehend. Since the proliferation of computers and technology, cybersecurity now affects anyone who is connected to the internet. But it doesn’t stop there. The energy industry and its valuable infrastructure is frequently targeted by cyber criminals. Maintaining our safe and reliable operations by remaining vigilant against attacks ensures that we can continue to move one third of the natural gas used every day in the U.S. to power industry, heat our homes and cook our food.

Increasing regulations, including the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Directives, have reinforced the cybersecurity changes and innovations Williams has pursued for some time. These changes and innovations are now intertwined in every aspect of our business, protecting our systems, assets and our people.

At Williams, another very important aspect of our company is our culture. We’ve been able to connect that with our cybersecurity efforts – creating community through cybersecurity to inform, educate and ultimately change employee behavior for the better, further improving our robust cybersecurity preparedness.

Internal podcast

Our cybersecurity team created “What the Hack?”, an internal podcast highlighting relevant security-related topics in a way that anyone can understand, spiced up with witty banter from our cybersecurity hosts. The podcast provides another resource to seek out knowledge that has been vetted and comes from a reliable source.  

Interactive events

During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) in October, our team hosts a highly popular week-long cybersecurity escape room event. Allowing employees to participate either virtually or in-person, this event allows our cyberteam valuable face time with colleagues from all over the company. During this event, employees are challenged to recognize and decipher real-world cyberthreats and beat the clock to win prizes, the Cybersecurity Champion title and, of course, bragging rights.

Cyber superpowers engage

In early 2022, Williams launched an enterprise-wide campaign to combat cybersecurity threats and introduce new TSA mandates – Operation Secure. Every good campaign needs a mascot, and so we created a fictional cybersecurity character who represents our employees in their fight to help keep our environment cybersafe. This character is used to bring awareness of current threats and provides tips and tricks to fight cybercrime. These cybercommunications have some of the highest readership across our internal communications efforts.

Cybersecurity often gets a bad reputation for being the cyber police, but these new efforts have created an aware internal cybercommunity, showing employees that we are only as strong as our weakest hyperlink.

If you’re looking for more information on NCSAM, learn more at