Accenture Hires Former CIA Tech Exec To Head Its Federal Services' Cybersecurity Practice

In a move to capitalize on the growing importance of cybersecurity in the federal government space, Accenture has hired Ira "Gus" Hunt - the CIA's former chief technology officer – as the head of its Federal Services' (AFS) cybersecurity practice.

Hunt, after a 28-year career, retired from his position as CIA CTO in 2013, having made his mark there by setting the CIA's IT strategic direction. That included pushing accelerated adoption of new technology and the creation of a $600-million cloud computing system for the agency by Amazon Web Services.

"Within Accenture, security has been there, but it has not been a core focus," Hunt said in an interview with CRN. "The moves they are now making is a clear recognition of the fact that security is an issue that is going to be with us for a long time and one that needs some critical rethinking."

[Related: Accenture Bolsters New Security Practice With Acquisition of 130-Person Security Solution Provider]

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In his new position as head of the Arlington, Va.-based AFS cybersecurity practice, Hunt will be in charge of providing federal government clients at defense, intelligence, public safety, and civilian and military health organizations with data-centric security technologies, operational security like cyber hunt and incident response offerings, and strategic consulting. He will also assist government agencies transitioning to cloud computing in a more secure way.

"In my opinion the cloud itself is inherently more secure and if we use it in certain ways, we can make it a dramatically more secure environment for clients," Hunt said.

As security breeches become more frequent and more public, the importance of cybersecurity is becoming more evident to both private sector companies as well as government organizations Hunt said. He said that is a goal his experience will help him achieve.

More recently, before moving to Accenture, Hunt served as chief architect for Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund located in Westport, Conn., where, according to a statement from Accenture, he was responsible for forming the company's enterprise IT architecture processes and building an enterprise technology strategy to shape its technology future.

Before that, Hunt was president and chief executive officer of Hunt Technology LLC, a private consulting practice focused on strategic IT planning, cyber and data-centric security, big data analytics and cloud computing.

"I think my experience helps me extraordinarily," he said, adding that in the CIA, "If security got breeched, lives got lost." That created a very strict focus on security that he now believes may be put into practice across the board.

Hunt is the second high-level cybersecurity expert to join Accenture recently, following the June hiring of Kelly Bissell from Deloitte to head Accenture Security, which was formed in tandem with the start of Bissell's employment.

Before the formation of Accenture Security, Accenture's security capabilities were housed across all five of its business units: strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. But the $31-billion company increasingly realized that it needed a dedicated, standalone security practice to address industry-specific vulnerabilities associated with incorporating digital technology into clients' business models.

Since June, the Dublin-based Accenture has acquired two security firms to add to its security practice, scooping up Israeli security services company Maglan in June and Melbourne, Australia-based security services company Redcore in August.

Accenture, No. 2 on CRN's Solution Provider 500 list, hopes to raise the annual revenue from its security practice to well over $1 billion by addressing industry-specific security vulnerabilities and growing Accenture's presence in such areas as mobile security and in governance, risk and compliance (GRC) consulting.