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Gus Hunt, former top tech official for CIA, outlines cybersecurity ‘moonshot’ during keynote address at Top of Mind 2018 summit in Pittsburgh

By Alex Nixon

Gus Hunt, the former chief technology officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, is brutally honest about the state of cybersecurity and why there’s a need for industry and government to combine forces to develop solutions.

“By any measure, things are bad and getting worse,” Hunt said, of the rising threat from hackers and the volume of cyberattacks hitting many industries, including health care.

Hunt, who delivered the keynote address at the Top of Mind for Top U.S. Health Systems 2018 summit in Pittsburgh, said that despite increasing investment dedicated to building cybersecurity defenses, the problem of data breaches and other cyberattacks hasn’t been reduced. The only way to truly get ahead of hackers and make meaningful advances is for the government to call for a “moonshot” scale initiative that rallies all stakeholders to work together.

“I think we’re positioned well from a technology perspective to get in front of the problem, but we haven’t put all the pieces together yet,” said Hunt, who is managing director and cyber lead for Accenture Federal Services.

Hunt’s talk opened the Top of Mind 2018 summit, sponsored by the Center for Connected Medicine, and focused on a white paper he authored, “Defining a Cyber Moonshot.” The summit brought together leaders from health systems, the health IT industry and others to discuss trends in digital health that are priorities for the coming year, namely cybersecurity, virtual care, consumer-facing technology, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence.

In addition to outlining his cybersecurity moonshot proposal, Hunt argued the merits of health systems moving more of their IT infrastructure to the cloud, a move the CIA made during his tenure as the spy agency’s chief technology officer. Cloud infrastructure creates a more dynamic attack surface that can ward off attacks and rebound more quickly in response to breaches.

Plus, Hunt said, major technology companies are investing more time, money, and talent than any single enterprise could muster on their own to have the most secure and robust systems. “The transition to the cloud is really an opportunity to reinvent your security,” he said.

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