DHS Launches Risk Management Center and ICT Supply Chain Task Force at Cybersecurity Summit

By Jesse Ward, Director, Industry & Policy Analysis, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association

August 2, 2018

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on July 31 convened a National Cybersecurity Summit in New York City to discuss cybersecurity threats and the public-private partnership to protect critical infrastructure and national security.    

The event kicked off with an invite-only roundtable, which was moderated by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, alongside Energy Secretary Rick Perry, FBI Director Chris Wray, Secret Service Director Randolph Alles, and NSA/Cyber Commander General Paul Nakasone. Industry participants included the CEOs of various IT, communications, energy and financial institutions.  NTCA was fortunate to have a seat at the table and Rusty Moore, general manager and COO of Big Bend Telephone (Alpine, Texas), proudly represented his small company brethren.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen leading the CEO roundtable

The VIPs in attendance were impressive, and it was groundbreaking for DHS to convene senior government officials and industry leaders together to singularly focus for the day on the evolving cyber-threat landscape and our collective response.

As part of the event, DHS launched a National Risk Management Center, which will be housed within the agency and tasked with working with industry to reduce cyber risks to critical infrastructure. NTCA looks forward to working with DHS on the center; a practical risk-management approach to cybersecurity is something NTCA has long-subscribed to and championed through the NTCA Cyber Wise educational program.

A few additional key themes from the event:

  • Collective defense and shared responsibilities: As Sec. Nielsen noted, bad actors are crowdsourcing their strategies and tactics. Similarly, government and industry need to join together to defend our nation’s critical systems and functions from cyber attack. As Gen. Nakasone noted, partnerships are our asymmetric advantage.
  • Focus on the needs of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs): Although many of the speakers represented Fortune 500 companies, the needs of SMBs, especially those that operate critical infrastructure systems such as telecom networks, were top of mind.  
  • The importance of cyber information sharing: Your cyber risk management plan is only as good as the intelligence you receive. Therefore, government and industry need to continue to exchange timely, actionable and relevant cyber threat indicators and best practices.
  • The complexity of supply chain risk management: As part of the National Risk Management Center, DHS announced the launch of a series of “90-day sprints” wherein industry and government will collaborate on key topics. The first sprint is an ICT Supply Chain Task Force, which will be led by the Communications and IT Sector Coordinating Councils (CSCC and IT-SCC respectively). NTCA serves on the CSCC executive committee for 2018 and as the chair of the CSCC SMB Committee; the association will have a role in this new task force as it takes shape.  
Big Bend Telephone General Manager/COO Rusty Moore attends the Cybersecurity Summit

Although security was tight (despite not leaving the building throughout the day, we processed through metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs again and again), protestors were in full-force (unrelated to the event, i.e. the administration’s immigration policies), and the auditorium was packed (standing-room only, three rows deep in every session), it was a thrilling event. I could not have been prouder to represent NTCA and the small telecom service providers who are on the front-lines every day, protecting and defending our nation’s critical communications systems from cyber-based threats.

Interested in getting more involved in NTCA’s cybersecurity efforts?

  • Join us October 21-23 in Dallas, Texas, for our final NTCA Cyber Wise Workshop and the collocated NTCA Cybersecurity Summit. In addition to a variety of educational sessions, DHS is working with us to develop real-world table-top exercises, specific to your threat environment.
  • Participate in NTCA’s Cybersecurity Working Group to learn more about technical, operational and policy issues facing small network service providers. Contact me to learn more.
  • Purchase the 2018 NTCA Cybersecurity Bundle, a comprehensive guide designed to help your company develop a risk-management approach to cybersecurity—your company’s best defense against a proactive cyber adversary.