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Cybersecurity Conference Brings FCC Chair, Others to Georgetown

Jane Lute

Jane Lute, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, told the International Engagement on Cyber audience "the status quo is unacceptable" in regard to today's cyber threats.

April 11, 2012 – FCC chair Julius Genachowski told participants and attendees at a cybersecurity conference at Georgetown yesterday that his new Stolen Cell Phones Initiative will make the country safer.

“Within the past year, the percentage of Americans with smartphones has doubled, going from about 25 percent of subscribers to more than 50 percent,” Genachowski said. “These new mobile devices are delivering tremendous benefits … but the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets is also creating very real safety concerns. The numbers are alarming.”

The initiative, aimed at combating phone theft and securing consumer information, will create databases to prevent use of stolen smartphones and tablets. It also will prompt consumers to protect their devices and launch a public education.

International Threats

Georgetown’s Institute for Law, Science and Global Security in the government department and the Atlantic Council sponsored the all-day International Engagement on Cyber event.

The conference focused on facilitating dialogue and collaboration about newly emerging international cybersecurity threats among policymakers, academics and key industry investors from around the world.

Catherine Lotrionte, who directs the institute, introduced speakers at the conference.

Information Sharing

“The status quo is unacceptable,” said Jane Lute, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a keynote speaker at the conference.  “It is dangerous out there in cyberspace and we are all victims potentially.”

Lute emphasized the importance of collaboration across different sectors of society to combat potential threats and enhance cyber security overall.

“We need the efforts of civilians, the efforts of soldiers, and the efforts of military to protect the fragile peace,” she said.

Cyber Hygiene

Another keynote speaker, William J. Lynn III, agreed.

“We must work together with our law enforcement officers in the federal and state governments, both locally and internationally,” the former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense said. “Cybersecurity requires a joint effort and a high degree of information sharing. In Homeland Security there is a presumption of transparency and a duty to share information.”

Howard Schmidt, cybersecurity coordinator for the White House, noted the country will never be 100 percent secure.

“In society many of the benefits we have are directly related to the technology that we have developed,” Schmidt said. “We need to use good cyber hygiene and make sure that the tools are in place so that consumers can protect themselves.”

A Collaborative Effort

Schmidt said that the intent behind creating his office at the White House was to enable coordination across government.

“We must share information not just across the government agencies, but with the private sector,” Schmidt stated. “What we are looking to build is an identity ecosystem and looking to the private sector to take the lead on this.”

Schmidt noted that President Obama has called for government industry and academia to look for the best ways to address cybersecurity issues and develop capabilities that allows us to “identify, isolate and respond” to threats, namely those surrounding international property theft.

 “What is more important: privacy or security?” he asked. “The answer is both and we can do both. Each of us can do our part to secure our part of cyberspace, which in turn, makes us all more secure.”

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