From Special Ops to Cybersecurity: A Veteran's Journey in National Security

Tech Transforms, sponsored by Dynatrace

Feb 14 2024 • 50 mins

Sebastian Taphanel has spent his life on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. This week on Tech Transforms, Sebastian is sharing tales and lessons learned from his 20 years in DoD Special Ops and intelligence and 20 years implementing sound security engineering practices focused on implementing zero trust and highly resilient environments. Join Sebastian as he recounts his time in Special Forces taking his units out of the dark ages from secure fax communications to setting up an intranet, and how he continued with that innovative spirit through his 40-year career. He also shares his new passion, encouraging the industry to utilize disabled veterans to help fill both the cybersecurity and AI workforce gaps. They, after all, already have a call for the mission.

Key Topics

  • 03:38 ODNI CIO responded quickly with Microsoft Azure.
  • 07:03 Protecting data via application container, expanding capabilities.
  • 11:01 Zero Trust redrawn cybersecurity model, data-centric approach.
  • 13:57 Developing zero trust plan for downstream organizations.
  • 18:50 Ensuring security while sharing information and protecting IP.
  • 21:35 APIs, containers enable fluid, flexible data access.
  • 24:20 Data protection systems allow secure sharing and storage.
  • 27:02 Addressing cybersecurity workforce gap and AI need.
  • 29:39 In 1998, new commander requests secure WAN.
  • 33:49 Applied for certified protection professional, highest security certification.
  • 36:28 Passionate about supporting disabled vets in cybersecurity.
  • 39:55 Mentoring government employees for cybersecurity and AI/ML.
  • 45:32 Using advanced generative AI solutions for copywriting.
  • 47:19 Update cybersecurity tools and systems for new threats.
  • 49:50 Respect for those dedicated to automation.

Enhancing Secure Communication and Cloud Environments in Special Ops

Special Ops Agility: Adapting to Remote Collaboration with Secure Cloud-Based Workspaces

Sebastian Taphanel’s experience spans twenty years in DOD Special Ops and Intelligence, followed by consulting in security engineering. The focal point of this episode is his role in advancing cybersecurity practices at the ODNI. Particularly emphasizing resilient cloud-based environments.

Sebastian describes the quick adaptation during the pandemic which led to the rollout of an ad hoc cloud-based workspace to ensure the ODNI's mission could endure despite the workforce being remote. GCC High, or Government Commercial Cloud High as conceived by Microsoft, is revealed as the successor to the initial setup. Providing a more secure platform managed strictly by U.S. persons. The approach highlighted the agility of cloud technology for remote collaboration within federal agencies.

Cybersecurity in Intelligence Sharing: "Essentially, reciprocity is a process and also a culture of accepting each other's risks. And that's really the bottom line on all that." — Sebastian Taphanel

Unfolding the GCC High Environment

The intricacies of implementing Microsoft Azure and M365 (Office 365) are detailed as Sebastian underlines their pivotal use in creating an intranet with controlled document sharing and editing. These implementations include robust Mobile Device Management. Then a BYOD Mobile Application Management system that protects sensitive data in government and personal devices. Thereby, ensuring operational security and flexibility.

Special Ops Communication Evolution

Sebastian advanced from using secure faxes for interstate communication within military units to establishing a multi-state secure WAN. This resulted in a significant leap in communication efficacy for special operations. Sebastian shared the...

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