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Top DHS Exec: Security Issues Must Go Beyond IT

Assistant Secretary Schaffer says cybersecurity must become a broader issue
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Black Hat DC Conference 2010 -- Cybersecurity issues need broader attention from those outside of the IT space, said a top official from the Department of Homeland Security here yesterday.

In his keynote presentation at Black Hat DC -- a conference predominantly attended by top security researchers and security professionals -- Greg Schaffer, Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C) at the DHS, said cybersecurity is becoming an issue that needs broader attention.

"We need a cybersecurity culture that goes beyond the people in this room," Schaffer said. "We need to build awareness in younger people, not only at the university level, but in the K-12 years."

Schaffer also encouraged the audience to look at cybersecurity in ways that go beyond IT. For example, DHS is working on broad initiatives to secure control systems used in a variety of industries, such as utilities and manufacturing, he said.

Cyberattacks could occur at any level, not just through critical systems, Schaffer observed. "Anytime you have an unprotected node of any kind, you are putting that node into position to be the platform for an attack on government or business," Schaffer said.

"My job is to make it harder for malicious actors, and to make it more costly for them to act."

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