Public Needs to Become Cyber Aware

Thursday, October 28, 2010 @ 09:10 AM gHale

It is very easy to over react and scream into the night regarding the constant cyber threat manufacturers face on a day to day basis. But it is a simple fact the cyber threat facing those working in the manufacturing arena does pose an intense issue that needs attention from everyone, not just a select few.
Having everyone aware of the potential threat was the idea behind a panel discussion this week at the Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, VA.
“Why aren’t we educating people? Now, it’s a cyber epidemic,” said Bob Dix, vice president for U.S. government and critical infrastructure protection for Juniper Networks.
Dix and the other panelists said open systems has made all of them vulnerable. Knowing that, they all agreed the United States’ overall cyber defense isn’t strong enough.
“Right now, we’re a soft target,” said Sherri Ramsay, director of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service’s Threat Operations Center. “We’re very easy.”
Agencies are familiar with cyber threats, of course, but it’s a question of degree. “Nothing we’re talking about today is new,” Dix said. “What’s new is the threat is more severe.”
Making it tougher to penetrate systems involves a number of steps, including instituting security standards, getting agencies to share information more readily and raising awareness among the public, panelists said.
Some of those steps are already underway. Matt Coose, director of the Federal Network Security Branch of the Homeland Security Department’s National Cybersecurity Division, said the work of NSA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in creating the “Security Content Automation Protocols” have come a long way.
A next step is to take standards global, Coose said.
Ramsay said agencies also have gotten much better over the last few years at collaborating on security. She said about 30 entities around government take part in a teleconferenced meeting five days a week to discuss security. It’s typically a short meeting, but agency representatives get to talk about what’s going on with their networks, and it establishes a rapport that would prove helpful in an emergency.
Ramsay said her presence on the panel was one sign that NSA was looking to raise security awareness. Two years ago, NSA would not have sent the director of its threat operations center to give public talks, she said. Now, she spends a fair amount of time doing just that.
Ramsay also called for a combined effort. “We absolutely have to have a Team Cyber” consisting of the public and private sectors and academia, she said, and which much be interoperable at the system, network, people and policy levels.

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