Thought Leader Q&A With:
David Levy, VP, US Federal and NPO,
Amazon Web Services

A speaker at the 11th Annual Billington CyberSecurity Summit, 9/8-9/9, 2020

In this pre-summit interview, David Levy shares his thoughts on challenges/opportunities for the federal government and remote work. He’ll participate in the following sessions at the 11th Annual Billington CyberSecurity Summit:

  • Fireside Chat: Cybersecurity Priorities of the Deputy Federal CIO
  • Securing the Workforce and the Endpoint in the Intelligence Community
  • Fireside Chat: Cybersecurity, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
  1. Your upcoming panel on secure work includes senior leaders of the IC. From your perspective, how has COVID-19 most impacted your government customers? What have been the greatest challenges and perhaps the unexpected pluses?

COVID-19 has challenged our government customers, particularly those in the IC, to support their missions despite unprecedented circumstances. Leveraging cloud infrastructure has helped them provide secure connectivity to our national security and defense communities, as well as ensure systems are resilient and up to date.

The pandemic has shown that technology modernization is an important aspect of any preparedness strategy. Getting the right cloud-based solutions in place will have positive benefits for years to come, as many of the modernizations we have seen in the public sector are positioned to have lasting effects that will extend beyond the pandemic.

  1. How is AWS contributing to the security of telework, and what is AWS doing to ensure it meets the government’s high security bar?

We’re working with our customers, including national security professionals, to ensure they can continue their missions despite the increased need to operate remotely. At AWS, security is and will always be our top priority. Everything we build is built with security by design, and AWS has been architected to be the most flexible and secure cloud computing environment available today. And we continue to innovate to deliver the most up-to-date approaches to cybersecurity. We offer a range of tools that can help organizations quickly implement a secure and scalable remote-work strategy. For example, Amazon WorkSpaces is a Desktop-as-a-Service solution that allows customers to provision desktops in just a few minutes and quickly scale to provide thousands of desktops to workers across the globe. Each user is provided access to encrypted storage volumes in AWS, so no user data is stored on the local device. This helps improve security and reduces the organization’s overall risk surface area. While the government does have a high security bar, our core infrastructure is built to meet it. AWS offers regions to serve government workloads across the full range of U.S. government data classifications. We also support a range of security requirements, including specific laws, regulations, and frameworks.

 

  1. What emerging technologies are improving security for government and national security customers?

Virtually every customer has vast amounts of data that can be leveraged to enhance their mission. The national security community’s ability to make sense of vast amount of data as quickly as possible will be critical to ensuring our country’s continued safety and security. We need to ensure we are putting the latest AI solutions, big-data analytics, quantum capabilities, and other emerging technologies into the hands of our national security professionals and our warfighters. These solutions should be the most cutting-edge solutions available – the same ones available to the private sector. We should not be saddling those charged with protecting our country with antiquated technology, yesterday’s algorithms, or outdated software. By eliminating the undifferentiated heavy lifting of the underlying IT infrastructure, the defense and national security communities can focus on their missions.

 

  1. What cybersecurity challenges and opportunities are top of mind from your perspective at AWS?

Across all levels of government and the private sector, far too many users operate antiquated networks and information technology systems that are extremely vulnerable to even unsophisticated attacks and malicious actors. A whole-of-society approach with sufficient funding from the government would help modernize public sector systems and bring them up to par. Part of this strategy should include greater use of commercial cloud infrastructure.

Ultimately, we should avoid a path that locks us into a situation where our once new equipment quickly becomes outdated and vulnerable.

 

  1. What are you most excited about related to the upcoming summit?

I look forward to the Billington Cybersecurity Summit each year because it presents a unique opportunity to bring together experts in the U.S. government, the private sector and international partners to share perspectives on the most pressing issues of the day and learn from each other’s experiences. This year, I’m particularly excited to interview Maria Roat, Deputy CIO for the Office of the Federal CIO, and Dr. Stacey Dixon, Deputy Director of the NGA, in two fireside chats that are sure to be insightful.