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What do kickboxing and cybersecurity have in common

When people think of cybersecurity, they think it is all about constant, in-the-moment, reactive execution. That is true in many regards, however, there is more to cybersecurity than that.  There is also a strategic side; that progressive, long-term vision to anticipate the unknown, convert fear into motivation, and prepare for future threats. 

As the Chief Operations Officer of Sara Assicurazioni, Luigi Vassallo has a philosophy that he lives by to keep his motivation strong. “The most important thing is not being the best one in a race, but the best version of yourself.” To put that into sharper perspective, Sara Assicurazioni is the largest insurance company in Italy with agency offices spread over 1500 points of sale. 

Part of Luigi’s credo is realized through his training as a kickboxer.  The challenges of getting into a boxing ring, and not knowing where the opponent may direct the next combination of blows is very similar to the uncertainties of cybersecurity.  You have a choice, either to cower in fear, or to take a proactive stance, preventing the opponent from ever gaining the opportunity to attack. This requires confidence and control. 

Sara Assicurazioni partnered with Cisco Secure to transform their entire security infrastructure. Luigi states, “Thanks to Cisco, when I explain where we are to our stakeholders and board members, I can reassure them that we are in control.”  However, like any good athlete, he doesn’t boast too broadly, adding “you need to be extremely safe and modest.” Some of the benefits that have been realized through adopting the Cisco Secure portfolio include: 

  • 2,000 endpoints controlled by Cisco technology, which intercepted 400 threats in the last 30 days. 
  • Validation of suspicious files, allowing security team to thwart sophisticated threats. 
  • Reduced threat investigation time, which translates to a nearly 20% increase in efficiency. 

One important aspect of a good strategy, whether you are an elite athlete or not, is to see the long-term effects of each maneuver. The vision Luigi had for Sara Assicurazioni was to become a “cloud first” organization.  This required careful planning, and most importantly, a firm foundation of trust that this direction was the right one for the organization and its stakeholders. “We are now a full digital company completely based on cloud infrastructure, and we have a lot of new digital services applications, and artificial intelligence.”   

Another part of any good strategy is understanding the importance of having a good team working with you.  An audience may see the lone boxer in the ring, but there are so many others involved with that person’s success.  Luigi credits his colleagues – from the IT and SecOps teams, all the way up to senior management – with the achievements of making Sara Assicurazioni as secure as possible. Luigi also adds more power to his punch by being a Cisco Insider Advocate, which enables him to channel his energy to inspire others.  He is also candidly self-aware of his part in the full security strategy. “I am not an elite athlete, but I like to win, and I like having Cisco on my team.” 

To find out more about Luigi’s journey, his challenges, and triumphs, tune into his customer story here. 


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