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Exclusive preview: Google Cloud fireside chat with Dmitri Alperovitch, Founder and Former CTO of CrowdStrike

July 19, 2021
Heather Adkins

Director of Information Security, Google

As I was preparing for my fireside chat with Dmitri Alperovitch, Founder and Former CTO of CrowdStrike and Executive Chairman of the Silverado Policy Accelerator, for the Google Cloud Government Security Summit taking place on Tuesday, July 20th, I was reflecting about recent developments in cybersecurity, Zero Trust best practices – including aspects of Google’s journey – and the benefits that this approach to cybersecurity brings to the public sector. 

As Dmitri and I discussed what we wanted to share during our session at the Government Security Summit, I quickly realized how pertinent the information was to our public sector audience. For that reason, ahead of Tuesday’s event, I wanted to give you a glimpse of what is to come in our fireside chat. Read below for an exclusive preview of what we plan to discuss. If you are planning to attend on Tuesday, we encourage you to ask questions through our interactive chat function and sign up for 1:1 time with our Ask the Expert program. 

Check out my chat with Dmitri below…

Heather: What do you see as the most significant changes in both the attack surface and cybercriminal tactics in recent years? And why do these changes present unprecedented challenges for public sector? 

Dmitri: In terms of the threat landscape, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The adversaries haven’t changed that much. It’s actually striking. Not all threats are emanating from governments or state actors – either directly or by providing safe harbor to criminals – but a large portion are. That has not changed. The volume and scale of attacks have grown, however, and become massive. And now, the greatest challenge is that everyone is a target. Before, only top-end institutions and government organizations were facing nation state threats. That has changed either through targeted attacks or accidental ones, such as WannaCry. The question now is “How do we protect the most vulnerable and extend much-needed protection to smaller organizations that do not have deep security expertise or resources?”

Heather: Earlier this year, the Biden Administration released its Cybersecurity Executive Order (EO). What do you see as the most important takeaways and potential impact of the EO? 

Dmitri: The Cybersecurity EO is set to have a significant impact. The biggest change is a shift in strategy. For many decades, we all had the mentality that we have to keep attackers out of the network. That is great in theory, but we all know that it is a virtual impossibility with a network of any significant size. Adversaries will find a way in. And, we used to think it was game over once they were in the network.

Then about 10 years ago, we began to see a change. Google led the way with its BeyondCorp strategy as did Lockheed Martin with its sentinel Kill Chain framework. Now, when an adversary penetrates a network, it’s not the end of the game, but the beginning. That is the case if the organization is prepared with a network architecture built around Zero Trust principles. The adversary now has to move laterally, steal credentials, and elevate privileges to get to the resources they want. A Zero Trust architecture can slow them down and give organizations time to detect and eject adversaries from the network. The EO recognizes the power of this approach and has made Zero Trust its fundamental tenet.

Heather: Federal agencies have spent the last 60 days looking at Zero Trust and developing their plans. What do you hope to see? What is critical to accelerating implementation?

Dmitri: The EO establishes a very ambitious timeline, and the US government is not known to move rapidly due to a number of restrictions and considerations. That said, the EO recognizes the idea that logging has to be at the center of modern architecture. Agencies need full visibility into what is going on at endpoints and across the network, have to hunt continuously across networks for adversaries, and must work to rapidly eject them. That is at the core of the EO, and it is a great shift. The private sector should be watching and learning as well.

Heather: What pitfalls should the Federal government look out for in moving forward to implement the EO?

Dmitri: One of the main challenges is the limited authority of the President. Congress is the only branch with the power to change the laws. While the establishment of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) a few years ago allows for hunting across agency networks, CISA still has limited authority. It cannot manage the cybersecurity of more than 120 civilian agencies.

Some agencies are performing well when it comes to security, but we have to recognize that this is not the norm. Not all agencies have the capacity to recruit the best cybersecurity talent, but their needs may be just as great. We need to centralize capabilities and leverage the cloud, like Google, to provide all agencies with the best cyber talent and resources.

Join us at the Google Cloud Government Security Summit to hear the rest of our conversation. The event is complimentary. Register today to reserve your spot on July 20th. If you have any questions about the event, please reach out to us at cloudsummitsupport@google.com.

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