During his nearly four years as chief information officer for the Department of the Navy, Aaron Weis championed widespread information technology modernization efforts and asserted that the service branch’s cybersecurity strategy needed to evolve to keep up with emerging threats.
Now, as managing director of technology at Google Public Sector, Weis is viewing the cybersecurity problem through a new lens — from the industry side of the government contracting ecosystem.
“I do still believe that the way that the DOD and much of the government approaches the problem of cybersecurity is wrong,” said Weis, a four-time Wash100 Award winner, during an exclusive video interview with Executive Mosaic.
“You know, they approach it as a compliance problem, which is, if we check off all the boxes and we fill out all forms, that will somehow be secure. And there’s a lot of track record — years and years of track record — that says that that’s not the case,” he added.
Weis has long advocated for a shift away from a compliance-based mindset and a pivot toward a zero trust approach. Zero trust has emerged in the last decade as a kind of antidote to the “checklist” method of cybersecurity, and its key tenet of “never trust, always verify” offers a more comprehensive way to ensure ongoing security.
“Zero trust is asking every second of every day, ‘Do we trust the user? Do we trust the device? Do we trust the network? Do we trust the data that’s about to be looked at? And do we trust the application?’ Weis said. “And looking at the intersection of all five of those variables over and over and over again is a way to have real-time, ongoing cybersecurity.”
He shared that part of the reason he feels energized and excited about his new role at Google is because the company was effectively the birthplace of zero trust, and he sees that approach as the way forward for organizations looking to protect against increasing cyber threats.
“Google is the originator of that as they shifted about ten years ago to that way of operating. So it’s exciting to be with a company that lives what I kind of was on the bully pulpit about there for the last year that I worked at the department,” Weis shared.
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