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Effective Cybersecurity for the Internet Ecosystem

Every day, over 80 billion malicious scans blanket AT&T’s global backbone. And with the ongoing deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT), cybersecurity experts agree that the threats are going to come faster and will require all internet stakeholders to work together in new, innovative ways.

This week, The Policy Forum hosted a cybersecurity issue update and panel discussion on Effective Cybersecurity for the Internet Ecosystem as part of our continuing commitment to bringing together policymakers, academia, and industry. We were pleased to host the chief cybersecurity official of the Department of Homeland Security – Assistant Secretary Jeanette Manfra – for her keynote remarks, as well as a panel discussion featuring a diverse group of cybersecurity experts representing a wide perspective of stakeholders in the internet ecosystem.

In his cybersecurity update, Bill O’Hern, Senior Vice President and Chief Security Officer for AT&T, provided an overview of cybersecurity evolution from traditional hardware-based security to a virtual security environment characterized by real-time, dynamic, integrated operations. Today’s bad actors have evolved with technology and social trends – the internet ecosystem now faces threats posed not only by nation-states and criminal organizations, but by nation-states blended with criminal organizations. These blended bad actors are working to weaponize the U.S. value system, exploit Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technology, and seize on poor information technology (IT) hygiene to further their own ends. The security challenges will increase with the deployment of IoT, and will require a concerted effort on the part of all stakeholders to think differently. And in this regard, software-defined networks provide powerful capabilities and security tools, such as virtually wrapping security around critical information and assets.

Stakeholders are “moving into a space where we just have to assume the network is breached,” stressed DHS Assistant Secretary Manfra in her keynote remarks. Innovation and technological advances are requiring policymakers to think differently about managing systemic risk. Public-private partnerships provide an excellent opportunity to address systemic risk and have already shown real promise for defending against internet threats.

In the panel discussion, distinguished experts delved deeper into cybersecurity and touched on a possible policy framework helpful for safeguarding the internet ecosystem. Panelists agreed that, with billions of new devices coming onto networks, IoT threats clearly pose a major concern – and addressing these threats will require developing meaningful incentives to deter threats and attacks. As just one example of better incentives, panelists discussed how some members of the financial community are evaluating cybersecurity practices and performances when making important investment decisions.

Protecting consumers from cybersecurity threats is a goal shared by all stakeholders in the internet ecosystem. At AT&T’s Policy Forum, we’re committed to raising awareness about cybersecurity and facilitating in-depth discussions of the challenges and potential solutions. We look forward to future opportunities to address cybersecurity and to contribute to a meaningful discussion on sound, commonsense solutions as the internet evolves.