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We Need to Talk: Increasing Communication Between the Public and Private Sectors

Today I attended the first event of NextGov’s Cybersecurity Series. I originally went expecting to learn more about the nitty gritty details of potential cybersecurity legislation but instead I learned about a much wider issue concerning how our society runs.

Here at GovLoop we try to connect the federal employees with the private sector employees to encourage collaboration and communication. Outside of GovLoop’s communication hub is a world that is greatly lacking in collaboration and compromise. The biggest challenge to cybersecurity legislation is not malicious hackers (both foreign and domestic), but developing a working relationship between the public and private sectors.

Politicians and citizens alike balk at the fact that Congress has not yet passed any cybersecurity legislation. The reason for this hesitation greatly comes from the fear of turning into a big brother government, much like those in Russia and China. Countries such as these use cybersecurity to monitor internet usage to protect the government from being challenged. To avoid this, leaders in Congress are hoping to find some way to hand the baton over to private businesses. Just telling the public sector that cybersecurity is their problem is not the way to go about protecting the country’s internet infrastructure; instead, as Andrew Grotto, one of the speakers today and a Professional staff Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said, government agencies such as the Department of Defense and Homeland Security need to support private sector efforts, while not encroaching upon them.

The hope is that the coming Executive Order will provide civilian companies the ability to better themselves and create working cybersecurity programs, and that any subsequent legislation will support this. But until then, the communication lines between the government and businesses need to be open. To start moving in the right direction Andrew Grotto suggests that we stop thinking of the public-private relationship as if each is monolithic. Instead we must realize that Cybersecurity isn’t just a government issue; “cybersecurity underlies so much of our society that its a societal issue,” says Kevin Gronberg, also a speaker today and a Former Senior Counsel for the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Only by working together will we be able to protect our essential internet infrastructure and move forward with confidence into our technology-based future.

What can we do to to improve communication between the public and private sectors?

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Pat Fiorenza

Nice post Kate, sounds like a really interesting event you attended. “Only by working together will we be able to protect our essential internet infrastructure and move forward with confidence into our technology-based future,” I love that’s how you wrapped up your post. We’re all going to be better off if we work together and really address issues. Cyber security is something that impacts all sectors, deeply complex, and needs to be done right – the stakes are too high. Thanks for sharing.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Warfare, whether we think of it in this way or not, includes cyberspace as a critical theater. Private and public stakeholders will need to be lockstep if we are to protect resources, infrastructure and information.