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**Interview with Gerald Caron III, CIO of International Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce**

**The Importance of Cybersecurity in Today’s World**

With the increasing amount of data that organizations and agencies hold, cybersecurity has become a top priority. However, not every cybersecurity requirement can be approached in the same way. In a recent podcast interview with Gerald Caron III, the Chief Information Officer of the International Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce, he shared his insights on the use of AI, automation, and analytics in cybersecurity. He also discussed the concept of Zero Trust and the need for government agencies to stay ahead of new cyber threats.

**The Intersection of Trade and Security**

The International Trade Administration (ITA) is responsible for promoting trade and investment, ensuring fair trade, and compliance with trade laws and agreements. As the CIO of ITA, Caron is in charge of all aspects of IT within the Bureau. With a global presence, the organization faces cyber threats from international actors.

Caron emphasizes the importance of adopting a Zero Trust approach to cybersecurity. Traditional approaches were reactive and focused on fixing immediate problems. Zero Trust, on the other hand, is a strategic approach that eliminates isolated security measures. As the CIO, Caron is responsible for the cybersecurity posture of the organization, which involves coordinating with different departments to assess operational risks.

**The Ever-Increasing Importance of Data**

Caron emphasizes the need for data in order to protect data. He refers to the principles of Zero Trust created by John Kindervag at Forrester. The ultimate goal of Zero Trust is to protect data from insider and outsider threats. Not all data is created equal, and it is essential to prioritize and protect sensitive information.

Using analogies, Caron explains the importance of protecting valuable data. He compares it to a Tootsie Roll Pop, where the soft center represents data that is trusted, but it can be easily compromised. Protecting all data from everyone at all times is neither practical nor necessary. Instead, the focus should be on providing the right data to the right people at the right time. In case of a cyber breach, it is crucial to assess what data the attacker had access to.

Another analogy Caron uses is that of a bologna sandwich and crown jewels. The crown jewels represent invaluable data that cannot be recreated if compromised. Protecting less important data, such as a bologna sandwich, is also necessary, but the priority should be placed on safeguarding the most critical information. By implementing security measures closer to the valuable data and focusing on how it is accessed, organizations can enhance their cybersecurity.

Caron shares additional insights on his approach to cybersecurity and discusses the impact of AI, quantum, and other technologies on the cutting edge of cybersecurity in a panel discussion at the GovFuture Forum DC event at George Mason University.

In conclusion, the interview with Gerald Caron III highlights the importance of taking a strategic approach to cybersecurity. Zero Trust, prioritizing data protection, and implementing robust security measures are essential for organizations and government agencies to combat evolving cyber threats.

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