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Virtual Cybersecurity Summit to Outline Threats, Solutions

Thought leaders from industry, government and academia will gather online Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the risks of cyber intrusion and ways the public and private sectors can work against those threats.

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When the annual State of California Virtual Cybersecurity Education Summit convenes this week, the stakes will be high.

As the public and private sectors come under ever-growing threats from hackers, an array of keynote speakers and breakout sessions will address compliance, risk mitigation and solutions. Scheduled speakers will represent state government departments, academia and private-sector companies, with topics as diverse as containers, ransomware, public-cloud threats, endpoint security and cybersecurity education for California students from kindergarten through graduate school — and beyond.

The annual event is co-presented by California State University, Sacramento; the California Department of Technology (CDT); the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services; the California Military Department (CMD); and the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

“This educational and information-packed summit offers the opportunity to receive continuing education units and provide leading-edge insight to identify, detect, protect, respond and recover from the latest security risks and cybersecurity threats,” the event website states. “The summit is designed to engage the entire spectrum of California’s cybersecurity professionals, whose job functions and expertise range from highly technical to executive. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the nation’s leading solution providers and discover the latest products and services for enterprise cyber defense.”

The five keynote addresses indicate the diverse topics at hand and the approaches available to cybersecurity professionals:

  • “Mind the Gap: Eliminating Public Cloud Threat Vectors” will be presented by Srikanth Nellore, senior director for Cloud Protection Platforms for Zscaler.
  • “Why Your Organization’s Endpoints Are Your Greatest Source of Risk” will be the topic for Chris Cruz, chief information officer for U.S. State, Local and Education for Tanium. Cruz is the former deputy state CIO, chief deputy director for CDT and former CIO for San Joaquin County.
  • “Beyond IT Security, Cyber-Physical Convergence Is the Way” will be the topic for Mark Weatherford, chief information security officer for AlertEnterprise.
  • “Risks Related to Ransomware” is the title of a keynote that will feature Accenture executives Kelly Bissell and David Fitch, along with state CISO Vitaliy Panych; Chief Chris Childs, CIO for the CHP; and Lt. Col. Ty Shepard of the CMD. Bissell, his firm’s global security lead, will address “ransomware attacks, the obvious and not so obvious impacts of such, and what organizations should do to best position themselves to mitigate risk and reduce vulnerability.”
  • “Future-Proofing Your Security Program” is the keynote topic of Wendy Nather, head of Advisory CISOs for Cisco.

From the education sector, a panel including Dr. Keith Clement of Cal State Fresno, Jorge Avila from CDT and Donna Woods from the Moreno Valley Unified School District will address the 55,487 available cybersecurity jobs in California and how to enhance cybersecurity capability and reduce skill gaps through education, training and workforce development.

Cruz, who joined Tanium five months ago after decades in state government, will emphasize how endpoint security as a concept is more important than ever with so many in the public and private sectors working remotely, many on their own devices. He cited one government entity in California that did a security assessment and discovered thousands of endpoints that it didn’t know existed.

“In this distributed work environment we have today, with people working from home, you’ve got to manage out to the endpoints, because people are plugging in from their laptops, desktops, smartphones.” Each of those endpoints, he said, is a potential hole in the cybersecurity fence.

“The big risk for today’s CIOs and CISOs,” Cruz said in an interview with Techwire, “is how do you manage all of that in a hybrid work environment? In the old days, we’d all come into an office and we’d all be working behind a firewall. Today, it’s a distributed work environment and you’ve got people working in both areas — so it’s more important than ever that you have management and visibility to all those endpoints. The hybrid model is not going away — it’s here to stay in government, and California is already taking advantage of that. They’re going to have to learn to manage and live in this hybrid model … and that increases your risk threshold.”

The virtual summit runs Tuesday and Wednesday, and more information and registration are available online. Techwire will have coverage in the coming days.
Dennis Noone is Managing Editor of Techwire. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in the Northern California foothills.