NIST Expert: Cyber is the New Space Race

A panel of experts weighed in on the importance of proactive cybersecurity efforts during the National Cyber Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., this week.

by Wayne Heilman, The Gazette / November 3, 2017

(TNS) -- The nation needs to treat cybersecurity the same as the race to put man on the moon during the 1960s, gathering the “best and brightest” to work on and solve the problem, an expert said during a panel discussion Thursday in Colorado Springs.

Ron Ross, a computer scientist and fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Washington, compared the challenge of improving cybersecurity to President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 speech setting a goal to put a man on the moon. Ross made his comments during the National Cyber Symposium, the second annual two-day conference at Broadmoor West that is hosted by the year-old National Cybersecurity Center based here.

“Cyber is the new frontier. It will be a national priority like the space race. We need to gather the best and brightest to meet that challenge. We can bring ourselves together to meet the challenge. We have to do better,” Ross said during a panel discussion kicked off by Gov. John Hickenlooper. The institute has established standards for cybersecurity and other areas that are followed by many government agencies and businesses.

Fellow panel member Chuck Grindle, chief information officer for the state of Kentucky, agreed that the nation “needs to bring the best and brightest to work on this idea. It is high time to issue that call and develop a consortium to come up with a national effort.”

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said the job of his state’s chief information officer is to “make sure people like me can sleep at night, but the job of the chief security officer is to make sure that we can’t.” He said he was not aware that some of his state’s cities and towns had been victims of ransomware — a cyberattack in which a hacker gains control of sensitive data and locks out the government agency and business from that data until they pay a ransom.

Hickenlooper, who called for the cybersecurity center to be launched in Colorado Springs last year during his “State of the State” address, also called cybersecurity the “next frontier” and said cyberattacks are a “threat to the country, and with the rate of change, the risk is growing rapidly.” He said he believed when he made the speech that “Colorado could be a national and international leader and as we go further into the vision and reality, it will happen quicker than anticipated.”

Panel member Dale Drew, chief security officer of Level 3, now part of CenturyLink Inc., said during a follow-up presentation that the “stakes have never been higher for companies and agencies impacted by a cyberattack.” He described the risk of a cyberattack as equal to the threat, multiplied by the vulnerabilities, multiplied by the value of the information that hackers are seeking.

©2017 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.