Checking in with Chris Townsend, Vice President, Federal, Symantec
We checked in with Chris Townsend, VP of Federal for Symantec, to get his take on the biggest cyber opportunities for government, what he’s most excited about at the Symposium, and – importantly – his NFL predictions.
Chris, what most excites you about working in this industry?
Cybersecurity is constantly evolving so it’s always interesting. We regularly need to refresh our skills, understand new threats as they develop, and figure out the best way to mitigate risk and defend data. Working with our government customers to address their unique challenges and build an integrated cyber defense to protect their information, constituents, and employees is extremely rewarding. Plus, it’s always fun to take the bad guy down.
I live by three primary goals each day:
- Improve the security posture of our nation by helping our government customers address cyber threats
- Ensure the professional/career success of our Symantec government employees
- Ensure the success of our partners
What’s new with Symantec? How are you focused on helping your government customers succeed in today’s environment?
With the recent Cyber EO and report on IT Modernization from the American Technology Council, and the Senate’s recent passage of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT Act), cybersecurity is front and center in the Federal government. And while there’s a lot of uncertainty, one thing is for sure: more and more agency systems, applications, and data will be moving to the cloud and shared services. This will make cybersecurity more complex, and the need to protect at the data-level even more critical. At Symantec, we’re focused on helping our customers make that shift and protect their data no matter where it resides or travels.
We’ve had a really transformative year as the largest pure play cyber security company globally. We’ve released many new major products and integrations in the last year, in addition to our acquisitions of Blue Coat, LifeLock, Fireglass, and Skycure.
Something we’re really excited about is our continued development in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Our combined threat intelligence and advancements from our AI enable us to see 3.2 million new detections every day, including new attack campaigns that were otherwise undetectable. We established our Center for Advanced Machine Learning three years ago; we have more than 20 PhDs working on high-impact R&D in machine learning architectures, algorithms and applications. It’s fascinating stuff.
We’re completely focused on bolstering our customers’ security posture with integrated solutions to detect, protect, and remediate cyber threats. The deep expertise of our global threat intelligence network paired with our advanced set of security solutions helps our customers take a holistic approach to protecting data across the enterprise.
What are you most looking forward to at the Symposium?
It’s hard to pick one thing. It’s such an important event for us each year, because it brings so many strong leaders across the public and private sectors together to talk about the really tough challenges we face today – and the innovative technologies and best practices we can use to combat them. We’re stronger together, and the community that the Symposium has built over the years had led to some really important dialogue and progress.
Our speaker lineup is really strong this year – covering everything from cyber sabotage and insider threats to IT modernization and cyber as a service. We’ll have two plenary sessions, plus three break-out tracks. We’ll also feature an interactive hackathon where attendees can test their cyber skills in a simulated scenario.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
Work hard and conduct yourself with integrity.
And now, for a couple fun questions. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?
Definitely turkey sandwiches the day after…
Are you a football fan? Who’s your pick to take the Super Bowl?
Yes, I’m a lifelong footfall and Redskins fan. But for this year’s Super Bowl, as tough as it is to say, I’m going with the Philadelphia Eagles to win it this year.
(Don’t be mad Washingtonians… He’s just a straight shooter and calls them like he sees them!)
Join Chris at the Symantec Government Symposium on Dec. 5. Register today.