Former CIA Tech Chief: Inside Look At Cyberarms Race, Snowden Leaks, Amazon Cloud Contract

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When asked about the government's surveillance activities in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks, Hunt said the intelligence community "has the authority of the law behind them." The activity is much like businesses using analytics to study customer buying behavior to better position products, he said. The goal is to look for basic patterns of behavior in people trying to undertake another terrorist attack, he said. Privacy is not dead, Hunt said, because people can "make decisions in their digital life about how much of your identity you are going to give up."

In the wide-ranging discussion at the conference, Hunt also briefly talked about the CIA's inability to keep pace with the private sector on innovation and its decision to award a $600 million contract to Amazon Web Services.

Hunt said the agency had been considering cloud technology in 2009 when it recognized that it wasn't able to match the buying power in the traditional marketplace, causing it to lag behind on technology initiatives. Building out its own enterprise cloud would have been costly and put it continually behind the private sector, Hunt said.

"The hard part was figuring out how to solve the problem," Hunt said.

Hunt said after a competitive bidding process, the decision was made to create a copy of Amazon's cloud within its own data center to maintain high security.

"It is not Amazon as in the Amazon commercial cloud, it's a copy of the Amazon cloud behind our fence line with our guards," he said. "Securing your own workloads remains a critical thing that everyone has to do."


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