Jen Easterly, the head of the US government’s cybersecurity agency, made her debut in the hacking world on Thursday, promising to pursue transparent data sharing with the private sector and calling for a “bold national effort” to address the cybersecurity skills deficit.
The CISA director unveiled a new Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC) to bring together federal agencies and big-tech businesses to manage the torrent of ransomware and supply chain threats in a meticulously planned video lecture at the annual Black Hat conference.
Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, AT&T, Palo Alto Networks, Verizon, Crowdstrike, FireEye Mandiant, and Lumen are among the organisations that will join the alliance, according to Easterly.
Apple, Facebook, and a number of well-known security providers are conspicuously absent from the JCDC’s initial membership.
The JCDC’s initial focus will be on sharing information and tools to assist defenders in combating the ransomware epidemic, including developing a planning framework to coordinate incidents affecting cloud service providers.
Easterly, who was dressed in dragon-print jeans and a “Free Britney” shirt under her blazer, admitted that previous attempts at “public-private partnerships” had failed, but she promised that her agency would be more approachable and open to information-sharing partnerships in the future, particularly before incidents.
“My goal is to help give these seemingly tired phrases new life, transforming public-private cooperation into -private operational collaboration. Easterly remarked, “Turn information exchange into something timely and meaningful.”
More crucially, Easterly stated that CISA will commit to providing actionable and relevant information. “In order for network defenders to make an informed decision, the information we offer must be current and relevant.”
She used her keynote speech to describe herself as an inquisitive child who learned to solve the Rubik’s cube in under two minutes and as a U.S. intelligence and military official who served in combat zones on many occasions.
Easterly was sworn in as the agency’s second Director less than a month ago, and she takes over at a time when ransomware assaults are on the rise and massive supply chain attacks have prompted the US government to respond aggressively.
The CISA director also used the Black Hat platform to encourage students to pursue careers in cybersecurity.
“Assist us in developing today’s and tomorrow’s cyber workforce. Everyone is aware of the statistics: there are currently 3.5 million vacant cybersecurity jobs worldwide, including roughly 500,000 in the United States,” Easterly observed.
She urged for a “massive national effort” to train cybersecurity professionals to deal with the increased risks that a fully digitised world faces.