Comey Goes Prime Time

FBI Director James Comey took the Feds’ cybersecurity message to prime time TV – not a bad way to reach an audience. In the wake of the JP Morgan breach, Director Comey used 60 Minutes as a platform to warn of the growing “epidemic” of cyber crime.

Director Comey pointed his finger directly at the Chinese. He called them prolific hackers, but also characterized them as unsophisticated – like drunken burglars. So he has a sense of humor, but what about timing?

Lights, Camera, Action
Too bad the agency couldn’t leverage the prime time spotlight to deliver its cybersecurity message after the breach at Home Depot, which we learned about September 18. Or Community Health Systems (August 18). Or eBay (May 21). Or Neiman Marcus (January 10). Or Target (December 19).

Better late than never?

That’s Offensive
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers also spoke up about cybersecurity during a recent public forum, suggesting we go on the offensive – launch attacks – to protect data and networks.

His remarks weren’t on prime time TV, but Rogers said “you’d be surprised at how far we are to an offensive policy.” Feds would have to develop a policy outlining when attacks should occur and who attacks should target before initiating any attacks, according to the congressman.


Unfinished Business
Congress can boost cybersecurity in other ways. Legislation to protect networks remains in limbo. Congress could approve FITARA and CISA, the information-sharing measure.

Agencies could speed up hiring to address the personnel shortage. The FBI and Pentagon alone want to hire 6,000 people with cybersecurity skills in the next two years. Lots of things have to fall into place to improve Federal cybersecurity. DHS wants to help, too, and now they have the freedom to scan Federal networks without asking.

Let’s Talk
At the next Cyber Security Exchange, numerous distinguished speakers will address the cybersecurity capability of Federal agencies and discuss:

  • What can agencies do to help monitor, analyze, and prevent cyber-attacks?
  • What platforms can help agencies reduce time-to-threat response?
  • What solutions have agencies put in place to minimize impact?
  • How can agencies protect their organization – from mobile workers to the core cloud-enabled data centers – from cyber-attacks

Government attendees can register here to join us. Feel free to share your thoughts by tweeting about it during the session. Use the @MeriTalk handle so all of our friends see your insights, too. Maybe we can get 60 Minutes to attend. And we can talk about Congressman Rogers’ proposal to go on the attack. Should we get more offensive? Would it work?
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Bill Glanz is the content director for MeriTalk and its Exchange communities. In the past 14 years, he has worked as a business reporter, press secretary, and media relations director in Washington, D.C.