Thanking public servants? Don’t forget your cybersecurity crew

At last night’s Government Information Security Leadership Awards banquet, a few outstanding cybersecurity people got their moment of fame, if only before a couple of hundred others from the same flock.

And because Public Service Recognition Week takes place now, how about thanking the people in your agency or company that toil to keep your networks running and your data safe.

The GISLA program is put on by the International Information Systems Security Consortium, which...

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At last night’s Government Information Security Leadership Awards banquet, a few outstanding cybersecurity people got their moment of fame, if only before a couple of hundred others from the same flock.

And because Public Service Recognition Week takes place now, how about thanking the people in your agency or company that toil to keep your networks running and your data safe.

The GISLA program is put on by the International Information Systems Security Consortium, which goes by the word (ISC)², a non-profit that offers cybersecurity training and an alphabet soup of certifications.

Before dinner, Karen Evans reminded people of how long the cyber struggle has endured. She recalled how, as a federal IT functionary in the 1990s, she asked Michael Dell what he was doing to ensure cybersecurity in the supply chain. And how she asked senior officials contemplating an email system, whether they realized employees would, under the planned configuration, have the reply-all option to agencywide messages sent from the secretary. Evans was the administrator of e-government and IT in the George W. Bush White House. Now she’s national director of the U.S. Cyber Challenge.

Evans said she hoped the workforce provisions in the draft cybersecurity executive order that’s made its way out of the White House would survive the final version. It basically calls for a thorough assessment of the private and public sector cybersecurity workforces, and the educational and training requirements necessary to build it up.

The EO would put ultimate responsibility for cybersecurity on department and agency heads. Evans said she’d recommended to an influential member of Congress, why not call in a Secretary and grill him or her on cybersecurity? The member answered, “But that would be mean.” Evans said, “Well, be mean to the right people!”

In the meantime, the government has a cyber workforce in place work working every day.

Like those in other professions, cybersecurity people honor their heroes. It sounded good to recall the late cyber pioneer F. Lynn McNulty, who pretty much invented federal cybersecurity. And also the late Howard Schmidt, among other posts the first White House cybersecurity adviser under President Barack Obama.

This year’s GISLA winners:

  • Daniel Holmes, senior information technician operations engineer for the Army
  • Matt Shabat, director of performance management at the Homeland Security Department. Click here to hear my interview with him.
  • Barbara Smith, information security director for the Pacific District at Veterans Affairs.
  • Michael Rocha, IT specialist at DHS
  • Memant Baidwan, branch chief, executive business management at DHS
  • Parham Eftekhari and James Scott, co-founders and senior fellows of the Institute for Critical infrastructure Technology.

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