Getting Ready for Cyberwar

Former FBI CIO Zal Azmi, CACI International Senior Vice President for Global Strategic Law Enforcement and National

Just as spy agencies have intelligence analysts, the government needs to develop technically savvy cyber analysts as IT threats from foreign nations and criminal organizations grow, says a former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief information officer.

"We're moving into a cyber warfare environment (and) if you look at the two domains (intelligence and IT), they're very similar," Zalmai Azmi, now senior vice president for global strategic law enforcement and national security at the IT services firm CACI International, said in an interview with

"The intelligence analyst relies on the number of information feeds they're getting from different intelligence agencies. They are drawing a common operational picture and then they decide how they're going to write a report and move it forward." Azmi told's Eric Chabrow. "The same is true of cyber warfare. These (cyber) analysts will be looking at tons of information coming from different sources and they have to determine what is the right course of action."

In the second of a two-part interview, Azmi also addressed the need to:

  • Employ milestones and matrixes that would help agencies successfully safeguard their digital assets.
  • Share information among agencies to get a better picture of the cybersecurity threats facing the government.
  • Implement timely patch management, a process many agencies still don't do to protect their systems.

In Part 1 of the interview, Azmi discussed why he sees the recent attacks on Google emanating from China as a prelude to future assaults, how IT tools can improve situational awareness and the effectiveness of the Federal Information Security Management Act.

Azmi joined CACI in November 2008 after serving five years as CIO of the FBI where he guided the bureau through its largest-ever technology upgrade. Before joining the FBI in 2003, Azmi served as CIO for the Executive Office of the United States Attorneys, where he created the organization's first IT security office. A Marine veteran - he served as a communications and intelligence specialist - Azmi has been twice deployed to Afghanistan as well as detailed to an intelligence agency.

Azmi holds a master in information systems from George Washington University, a bachelor in IS from American University and several IT certifications including information security management and program management.

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