As a global technology services company, Leidos has access to huge research and development capabilities. From artificial intelligence and machine learning to biometrics and data sciences, there are few fields of technological innovation where the company is not investing heavily to provide its customers with best-in-class products and services for the information age.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in cybersecurity. With cyber-attacks and ransomware trending up in recent years, there is a growing imperative to innovate to keep the “threat actors” at bay.
Recently, Gartner predicted that in the next two years 45 per cent of global organisations will be impacted by a supply chain cyberattack.
Rather than see this as an insurmountable challenge, Meghan Good, director of the Cyber Accelerator at Leidos, prefers to frame the problem as one that can be tackled incrementally.
She has recently read Josh Linkner’s best-seller, Big Little Breakthroughs: How Small, Everyday Innovations Drive Oversized Results, and feels the message about driving innovation gradually can be applied to cyber.
“When we are tackling these global challenges, they can feel really complex and complicated, and that they’re just untenable,” Good says. “But you have to realise that even small changes are making big impacts. And as you continue to increment, you’re getting towards this future vision.”
“Zero trust” is a good example where Leidos is leading cyber-security innovation, she adds. Zero trust is where all computer network users, whether internal or external, are continuously authenticated, authorised and validated.
In security terms it assumes everyone is a potential threat, so the idea is to leave no part of a network vulnerable.
“Our resilience capabilities are about assuming breach,” says Good. “So, we have worked on a tool suite that evaluates your current configurations and capabilities and identifies the gaps.
“It’s a level of maturity that we’re bringing to our products and those of our vendor partners through systems integration, which is really helping to build deep layers of resilience,” she adds.
Cyber visibility and building the right tools that allow organisations to understand and monitor events happening on their networks in real time is another big area of cyber innovation for Leidos, especially with the rollout of security orchestration and automated response tools.
“We’re right on the precipice of seeing those operationalised, which is really exciting,” Good says.
“We’re just about to accelerate to make that a much more automated process, and really right-size the work between people and the tech behind them.
“Because it’s a machine speed challenge, right? Events are happening faster than humans have the cognitive abilities to react. So, when we talk about better visibility, it has to happen alongside machine learning, where you’re looking for particular kinds of events and kinds of combinations of events across different systems and platforms.”
Richard J Jones is Leidos’s head of information assurance and cyber-security in the UK. His role is focused on bringing the innovations that are incubated in the Cyber Accelerator – which is a global resource – to a customer base including government, defence, national security, critical national infrastructure and key public services.
Although Leidos tailors its products for the UK market – where the General Data Protection Regulation is the regulatory framework – alignment is broadly similar, he says.
“It’s that ability to take a basic principle, and see how it’s working in practice, before rolling it out in different markets. In the UK, the focus has been on tailoring everything we do at Leidos for the benefit of our customers here, including the Scottish public sector and the citizens that consume those digital public services.
“Going forward, the security challenges we have are shared ones, though. With the data explosion, the industrialised nature of the threat actors we face, and the ‘always on’ nature of modern connectivity, we all have a stake in ensuring we can push cyber innovation to the next level.”