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On Tuesday, Center-Forward, a non-partisan organization seeking to advance centrist positions in D.C., hosted a panel titled Cybersecurity: A Critical Conversation to address the cyber landscape in Washington, D.C. The panelists included Andy Ozment, Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications at DHS;  Christopher Krebs, Director of Cybersecurity Policy at Microsoft; and Andy York, Executive Director of Federal Affairs at GM.

Ozment of DHS explained that while they often “help people fight fires,” they have been placing much emphasis on prevention as well and strive to assist three “customers:” private sector, state/local/tribal governments and federal civilian government branches through risk assessment, better information-sharing and incident response assistance. As for the effectiveness of CISA – the Cyber information Sharing Act – it is still too soon to tell. DHS just issued their final guidelines, something private organizations have been waiting on before participating in the program.

Krebs of Microsoft discussed the shortage of talent in cyberspace. He explained we must train the younger generation in computer science and cybersecurity starting at a very early age. He also expressed the need for the public and private spheres to get along. While they are currently at odds regarding key issues such as encryption and information-sharing, progress will not be made if we cannot work together. Krebs also predicts that as we enter a new election cycle, we will see encryption resurface as a top issue. This issue, he explained, is not security-v-privacy, it’s security-v-security, with different views on what constitutes best cybersecurity practices.

Lastly, GM’s York discussed the ongoing legislative debate regarding interconnected and autonomous vehicles, explaining that legislative action should not hinder our technological advances. One thing they could all agree on is that the next administration should not “re-litigate” cybersecurity issues that have been advanced in the Obama administration. While each administration has its own way of doing things, we should continue to address the current challenges and keep in mind the progress of the last 18 months.

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