Tackling the Federal Government’s Toughest Cybersecurity Challenges

Our latest Federal Expert Forum brought together more than 100 U.S. government representatives and Palo Alto Networks partners to talk about cybersecurity challenges in government, and how the Palo Alto Networks platform is equipped to tackle those challenges.

Check out a highlights video from the Forum and read on for details about a great day of discussions in Washington DC.

The Government Imperative

Following an introduction by Steve Hoffman, VP, Federal Sales, the day kicked off with a presentation from Mark McLaughlin, our Chairman, President and CEO. Mark highlighted how tectonic shifts in IT, including SaaS, mobility and cloud, are creating massive opportunities for cyberattackers.

Detection and remediation may be conventional wisdom when it comes to cybersecurity, Mark explained, but if the industry is to advance, we must come at cybersecurity problems with a prevention mentality. A highly integrated, highly automated approach includes next-generation firewall, next-generation threat cloud capabilities and next-generation endpoint protection, all of which Palo Alto Networks can offer in a platform.

Palo Alto Networks serves governments in more than 70 countries, and specific to the U.S. federal government, focuses on cost reduction, risk reduction and compliance issues, as well as government initiatives such as the CDM Program. As Mark noted, solving cybersecurity challenges in government, as in other priority markets, requires a scalable platform, a prevention mindset and superior security with superior TCO.

Following Mark came Raj Shah, Senior Director, Cybersecurity, who explained why current trends on the threat landscape call for a next-generation approach. As Raj noted, more threats than ever use encryption – 27 percent of applications on enterprise networks use SSL encryption, for example – and now that advanced threat tools are available widely, the threats themselves are becoming commoditized and it isn’t just nation-state adversaries we have to worry about.

A next-generation security platform, Raj explained, needs to detect unknown threats, prevent all known threats, offer that prevention across all networks, and also offered shared protections – closed-loop protections – for all customers globally via the cloud.

Four Innovations

Up next was Rick Howard, Palo Alto Networks CSO, who explained four innovations that will help organizations in the battle against sophisticated attackers and APTs. As Rick described, organizations must transition from traditional IR teams to true threat intelligence teams that can look at threats in aggregate and more strategically understand cyber adversaries. Organizations should also embrace the Kill Chain model of cyber defense – understanding the various indicators of compromise and how to stop adversaries at different stages to hold off entire attacks.

Another innovation is better information sharing by peer groups – an idea much discussed over the past decade, Rick said, but only recently starting to gain traction. The financial sector is a good example of an industry solving cybersecurity challenges by being open and collaborative with information sharing, Rick explained.

Finally, said Rick, next-generation firewalls provide not only the bedrock of the Palo Alto Networks platform but the key to stopping sophisticated threats while safely enabling business applications with no performance degradation.

The Software-Defined Data Center

After a networking lunch and another opportunity to visit our Vendor Fair -- including key partners such as VMware, Arista Networks and Splunk – our Forum closed with a joint presentation from Adam Geller, Palo Alto Networks VP, Product Management, and Chris King, VMware VP, Product Marketing, who discussed the deep integration between Palo Alto Networks and VMware and a next-generation approach to securing the software-defined data center.

There is much to come from Palo Alto Networks in the government space. For more on how our platform approach benefits governments worldwide: