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Preventing Cyber Attacks with John Davis, Federal Chief Security Officer of Palo Alto Networks

Episode 345
John Davis has first-hand experience with cyberattacks at the Pentagon. Hear his advice for improving cybersecurity at home and in the office.

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From Senior Military Cyber Advisor at the Pentagon to VP and Federal Chief Security Officer at Palo Alto Networks, John Davis is an experienced cyber security professional focused on educating the public on cyber threats and preventing the next national and international cyber attack. Palo Alto Networks is at the forefront of cyber security and uses the latest in tech such as artificial intelligence, analytics, automation, and orchestration to prevent cyber attacks on their integrated platform. 

John has had first-hand experience with cyberattacks from his time at the Pentagon. In 2008, John was in charge of directing operations and defense for the Department of Defense’s networks. While in the position, he was made aware of malicious code in one of their networks that threatened the entire DoD. He quickly responded to the threat by developing and implementing Operation Buckshot Yankee to find the code and identify whether any sensitive information had been hacked. As a response to his hard work and leadership, the U.S. Cyber Command was created in 2010 and John became its first director. 

“It was a near catastrophe for the military. In my view, that was the event that was like the straw that broke the camel’s back in the decision to create U.S. Cyber Command. As a result of a near catastrophe, senior leadership realized the consequence of the failed organizational structure and model that we had in 2008. They made the decision to bring together the people who operate the network, the people who defend the network, and the intelligence that supports them. They also provided cyber capabilities to integrate offensively along with every other military capability, air, maritime, or land.”

On today’s episode, Ian and John discuss John’s first-hand experience with cybersecurity attacks, what to know about the current security landscape, and advice and tools companies can use to improve their security.

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Quotes from John:

[What the security landscape looks like in the digital age…] “Some people have called this the fourth industrial revolution. I think it’s because the digital environment brings all of us promise and opportunity of all shapes and sizes and this movement, this direction, there’s no stopping it. There’s no going back. It’s on a path with no u-turns. As we are all increasingly connecting nearly everyone and everything in the digital environment, we’re increasingly dependent on it for everything that we do, including our personal and public safety, our economic competitiveness, even our national and international security. But as a result, we are increasingly vulnerable. As we connect everyone and everything, the risks aren’t just that the scale is going to increase, I think the risk is that the impact of the vulnerabilities will become more dangerous.”

“If you get people to understand the basics,  you can prevent 80 to 90% of what we’re seeing happening around the world today.”

“Organizations like mine, we see the trend that’s happening now as really good cybersecurity organizations figure out how to do [cybersecurity] for you so that you come in with an integrated platform, an integrated suite of products, that are all designed from the beginning to connect with, inform, and work with one another rather than relying on the security team to go figure out how to do all that.” 


Life 3.0


Palo Alto Networks Federal Ignite 2019, a security conference for the future, brings together leading cybersecurity professionals and government officials for panels and keynotes on Next-Generation security priorities along with hands-on training, best practices and new innovations on Thursday, October 10, and Friday, October 11, in Washington, D.C.

Register at

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