Cybersecurity Worries Intelligence Officials

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

Cybersecurity is a huge concern for the CIA in today’s world. At a panel during a recent CIA-George Washington University conference, several panelists from the CIA, the U.S. Naval Academy and cybersecurity consulting firms discussed the implications of hacking and encryption.

Chris Darby, who is the president and CEO of the consulting firm In-Q-Tel, believed that cybersecurity is “not a U.S. conversation anymore” due to the international aspect of cybersecurity or cyberterrorism. He advised that Americans “have to get comfortable with that and take the appropriate steps to deal with it.” Too often, Darby said, “We tend to look at what would have to be encrypted,” ranging from cell phones, mobile devices, and tag-and-track-locating requirements.

Andrew Hallman, deputy director of Digital Innovation at the CIA, said that too many people in the workforce are not digitally literate. “[We must] elevate the digital literacy of the entire workforce” in America in order to protect ourselves digitally. Recent cybersecurity issues “reflect the real complexity of the world as we know it.”

Chris Inglis, a visiting professor in Cyber Security Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy, believed that public perception makes cybersecurity tougher. “We want defensible systems that are well defended [today],” Inglis said, and the reality is that this is “really hard to do.” He admitted that the American people and their government have a trust deficit, which “[Edward] Snowden didn’t make that any easier” to bridge.

Dr. Jason Matheny, director of Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, spoke about the emerging field of synthetic biology and how technology continues to grow in this field. He circled back to encryption, “This is an opportunity…[of] how to use other data besides that which is encrypted.”

Matt Olsen, president of consulting at IronNet and former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said that today’s encryption discussion is “a watershed moment.” However, the current animosity about encryption and the federal government makes it tougher to discuss details and move forward in encryption.

Photo by William Hook