FireEye Government Forum 2017 – “Playing Defense” in Today’s Cyber Security Battle

Despite the winter storms that swept through the northeast U.S. last week, the fourth annual FireEye Government Forum – held on March 15 in snowy Washington D.C. – attracted leaders from a broad range of federal, state and local government and military organizations for a lively discussion about today’s most important cyber security issues.

The event featured keynote addresses from FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia, Rear Adm. Samuel Perez, Rear Adm. Gene Price, and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner.  

Kevin kicked off the morning session by thanking two groups: the “FireEye team who let me represent them,” and the forum attendees “playing defense in cyber security.”  Kevin likened today’s cyber security community to a lacrosse goalie covered in bruises, the one person defending against an entire team trying to get past him. Kevin’s message focused on the fact that the rules of engagement are changing, and that we need to remain focused on finding new ways to combat cyber attackers.  

Next up was the CISO panel that I moderated, a discussion on the importance of enabling government CISOs to command and protect. The panel featured a cross-section of government experts – Matt Conner from the National Geospacial Intelligence Agency, Marti Eckert, the CISO for the Social Security Administration, Mitchell Komaroff from the Department of Defense Office of DCIO, and John McMichael, the CISO for the city of Washington, D.C. The panelists shared their insights on the increasing sophistication of cyber attackers and how this compares to today’s defense capabilities. The discussion also focused on compliance-led strategies, and the need for an intelligence-led approach to cyber security.

The morning wrapped up with the keynote from Rear Adm. Perez, U.S. Navy (Ret.), who talked about the inherent risks of a more connected society as a result of the expanding Internet of Things (IoT). He used his experience on the front lines to emphasize the importance of discovering and defeating vulnerabilities.

Rear Adm. Price, deputy commander of the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command for the U.S. Navy, opened the afternoon session, urging the security community to be “prosilient” – both proactive and resilient against cyber attacks. Like Rear Adm. Perez, he discussed the challenges presented by IoT and how connectivity has come at a cost, noting how “we can’t patch our way out of danger.”

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia talked about connectivity’s impact on cyber security from a congressional point of view. The senator discussed the challenges of getting Congress to look across the jurisdictional silos to find a cyber solution that gives defenders an advantage over attackers. His message about stricter breach notification policies, and why the value of an effective cyber security solution is more important than its price, drew applause and approval from forum attendees.

The remainder of the afternoon was dedicated to breakout sessions featuring FireEye and government cyber security experts, and the forum officially ended with Kevin’s final remarks. In addition to the keynotes and breakouts, there were opportunities to network with FireEye executives and forum attendees and learn more about solutions offered by FireEye and its partners in the Exhibitor Showcase.

The FireEye Government Forum underscores our continued commitment to innovation and intelligence-led security, while bringing home the message that cyber defense needs more attention than ever across every level of government worldwide.

Check out the event website for additional information on this year’s forum.