Philip Quade, former special assistant for cyber to the director of the National Security Agency, has joined the network security company Fortinet as its first chief information security officer.
After more than a three decade-long career in the intelligence community, the former chief of NSA’s cyber task force joined Fortinet (FTNT) to take charge of its digital defenses as well as to lead its federal and critical infrastructure business, the company told Fortune. Quade’s duties will also involve consulting on strategy with Fortinet customers, which have included the Nasdaq (NDAQ) stock exchange, Yahoo Japan, and the Boston Red Sox.
In his last government assignment, Quade’s mission was, he likes to tell his kids, to “keep the country safe.” It’s that same compulsion, he told Fortune, that “has taken me from Fort Meade to Fortinet.”
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As head of the NSA’s cyber task force, Quade coordinated cybersecurity activities between federal agencies, and he served as a liaison to the White House on cybersecurity matters. Prior to that, Quade served as chief operating officer of the NSA division tasked with protecting the Defense Department’s sensitive data.
What lured Quade away from his NSA post, he said, was Fortinet’s “security fabric,” what the company has been pitching as a cohesive platform for security, rather than so-called point solutions, which are supposedly more limited. “More integrated solutions provide much more bang for the buck,” Quade said.
Many public sector network defenders eventually make their way to the private sector, where they can earn much higher pay.
Quade said he believes that cybersecurity is becoming more like “playing a game of hockey rather than playing a game of football,” in that there’s an increased blending of offense and defense. The analogy echoed a comment President Barack Obama made in the aftermath of the Sony Pictures (SNE) hack in 2014, in which he described cybersecurity as “more like basketball than football.”
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President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has recently been in touch with Quade about helping ideate, Quade said. “We made an agreement to talk in the weeks and months ahead,” he said.
Ken Xie, CEO of Fortinet, praised Quade’s experience in a statement, noting that he “will be focused on safeguarding Fortinet’s information technology and assets, expanding our strategic national programs, as well as serving as a trusted advisor to our C-Level enterprise customers.”
Founded in 2000, Fortinet competes with other cybersecurity companies, such as Symantec (SYMC), Palo Alto Networks (PANW), and Barracuda Networks (CUDA).