Mark McLaughlin

Palo Alto Networks CEO McLaughlin: ‘It’s Time for a Cyber Moonshot’

“The Coming Disruption in Cybersecurity” was the title of Mark McLaughlin’s keynote at the recent Federal Ignite 17 conference, held in Washington, DC, at the Grand Hyatt. Palo Alto Networks CEO, and the host of the conference, told the audience that he believes it’s time for a U.S. cyber “moonshot,” when it comes to security.

“We have to get beyond incrementalism,” he said. “We need an ambitious goal and to liberate our thinking to make it happen. A goal such as, ‘can we make the Internet safe in ten years?’” This is not a resourcing issue, explained McLaughlin, it is a focus issue. “What do we have to do as a nation to make that happen?” he said.

“In this digital age,” he told the audience, “trust is eroding rapidly in the very thing—digital—which makes everything happen. We need to restore trust in digital, and our adversaries know this. They are taking advantage of the declining cost of computing power to attack. They are a highly automated adversary, and we need to use our own automation, orchestration, and leverage to fight back.”

Software problem

But, McLaughlin cautioned, no single entity—private or public—can do all the innovation required to make that happen. “Innovation must be able to be consumed, used,” he said, “which is leading the drive to platforms, the use of which will make automation, orchestration, and leverage usable.” It’s a mistake to throw people at a software problem, and that’s what we’ve been doing, he said.

All of which will require three phases of evolution, said McLaughlin. “Evolution one, the appearance of cloud-delivered security services; two, a consistency of security; and, three, the dramatic disruption of consumption.”

“The mission,” concluded McLaughlin, “is to protect our way of life in the digital age by preventing successful cyber-attacks and making the Internet safe—all within ten years. It’s ambitious mission—a moonshot—but one many of us think we are ready for.”