Cyber Talk Radio: Accelerating Our National Cybersecurity Strategy

Bret Piatt, CTR Host, Tom Greiner and Gus Hunt from Accenture Federal Services - Episode 135 of Cyber Talk Radio

This past Sunday, April 28, episode 135 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. I was joined by Tom Greiner, Accenture Federal Services Technology Business Lead, and Gus Hunt, Accenture Federal Services Managing Director and Cybersecurity Strategy Lead, (former CIA, CTO),, to discuss the growth of Accenture in San Antonio with the opening of its Federal Cyber Center in order to support the security services of government organizations.

To start off the episode, Tom walks us through the role of Accenture Federal Services, a proxy entity of Accenture, which means it’s required by federal security services in order for them to do work for the government at their current scale. In addition to the business end, Accenture’s involvement extends to local involvement of promoting cyber education and careers, like at San Antonio’s Cyber P-TECH High School, gives students the opportunity to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity degree. Recently, Tom was at the launch of the new Accenture Federal Cyber Center. The center’s services are relevant to government agencies and customers who want more responsive onshore capabilities. Recently, increasing attack surfaces and vectors have made cyberattacks more common, so their managed security service offers the latest technology to get rid of attackers using the best talent in the industry. How did they end up in San Antonio? Accenture already had an existing presence here (around 2,100 employees), but noticed the city’s commitment to creating cyber talent and infrastructure and wanted to support that growth. One example of that is the many CyberPatriot teams at local schools. CyberPatriot is a cybersecurity sport that’s proven to be a good way to get kids prepared for cyber careers with the right skills. Accenture has also made an agreement with the city to locate another 500 jobs within the next four years!

We’re also joined by Gus, who discusses helping establish the future direction of the company in regards to cybersecurity. The Department of Homeland Security has 16 different agencies within it. No matter how good an organization is, they’re just as vulnerable as their weakest link. Most attack vectors occur through third-party support vendors, so Accenture Federal’s job is to support those government agencies to make sure they have no weak links. We then talk about the conundrum of Internet-connected devices! What’s surprising to many people is that the most dangerous devices are the least advanced ones that won’t be updated, patched or maintained in a secure way. This means that now they’re asking customers about their operational technology (OT) security. Development security operations should all work together to enable smart, transparent business decisions with both IT and cybersecurity. We close this first segment off with the conclusion that the industry needs to have to have more bigger picture conversations about this topic.

In the second half of the episode, we dive into cybersecurity backgrounds and training. Accenture offers programs for high school students, undergraduates and military. How did our two guests find their way into cybersecurity? Tom was a psychology and economics double major, but found positions in New York City and Washington, D.C, where his enthusiasm alone made companies hire him and he was trained after that. You don’t have to study computer science to get into this field, because if you’ve got talent and are willing to work, companies will train you. Gus was in the Air Force and then worked in the CIA, so he knows how to build secure systems from the beginning stages, which means building for the future. He emphasizes the importance of risk assessment, data storage and encryption! We do know how to store data securely without thinking about it and giving the right permissions for access, now it’s just a matter of making sure people are actually taking advantage of these capabilities. Before the episode ends, we discuss the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), defending customers, protecting information and cyber legislation.

Listen to the full episode replay to learn more about security services for government organizations.

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