The Public Eye with Eric Chabrow

The Government's Infosec "Conspirators"

The Government's Infosec "Conspirators"

I'm imaging Janet Napolitano and Robert Mueller huddled with Howard Schmidt in his West Wing office, coordinating the message they wanted to give in their keynote addresses at the RSA 2010 conferences this past week in San Francisco. They plotted to drive home the same point: cybersecurity cannot be achieved without close cooperation between the federal government and the private sector.

It's doubtful such a meeting occurred, but listening to the speeches delivered by the Homeland Security secretary, FBI director and White House cybersecurity coordinator, that message of government-business cooperation on cybersecurity echoed through the Mascone Center's main hall.

Said Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano:

"I would like to suggest that this is an area where the private sector - you - can be very, very helpful because we to have a system that works together. We have to get to a more reliable level of performance within that system. ... I'm asking you to redouble the efforts you are making to increase security, to increase reliability and to increase the quality of products that you have that enter the global supply chain."

Said FBI Director Mueller:

"No one country, company or agency can stop cyber crime. ... The only way to do that is by standing together. Together we can find better ways to safeguard our systems and stop those who would do us harm. For ultimately, we face the same threat. We both serve the American people. And we must continue to do everything we can, together, to minimize these attacks."

Said Cybersecurity Coordinator Schmidt:

"We will not defeat our cyber adversaries because they are weakening, We will defeat them by becoming collectively stronger, through stronger technology, a stronger cadre of security professionals and stronger partnerships."

It wasn't just the message of a government-business partnership that reverberated through the conference hall, but a call to arms to individual IT security pros to join the federal government's cybersecurity workforce.

In her address, looking around the hall of thousands of IT security experts, Napolitano referenced a three-year program to hire 1,000 cybersecurity professionals:

"We may try to recruit some of you or your talent right now. We need it, we need it. This is a huge public interest for our country; we need the best brains to bring to bear on meeting the challenge."

Similarly, Mueller pitched IT security jobs for the FBI:

"Before I finish up, I have one last word. My good friend Janet Napolitano said on this stage a couple of days ago encouraged those of you in the audience to sign up for the Department of Homeland Security. I also want to send out an invitation for those of you in the audience who would like to serve the country to join the FBI. And if you're not going to join the FBI, perhaps I can encourage you to join the Marine Corps."

(Mueller, a Marine veteran, entered the auditorium to the Marine Corps anthem.)

Napolitano and Mueller weren't the only federal agents pitching government services to the IT security professionals. The National Security Agency had a large booth in the middle of expo floor to recruit cybersecurity pros, with the likes of Tony Segar, chief of NSA's Vulnerability Analysis and Operations Groups, and Dickie George, the agency's Information Assurance Directorate technical director, lending their hands.

No doubt the government-business synergy in confronting cyber threats is in full swing.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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