COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., March 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Former Governor of Pennsylvania and first Secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, who is currently the Executive Chairman of RIDGE-LANE Limited Partners, provides keynote address at this year's Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Cyberspace Symposium in Colorado Springs, CO, attended by more than 2,500 cybersecurity professionals from March 6-9. AFCEA is a non-profit organization that connects military, government and businesses to advance information technology, communications and electronics capabilities. The theme of this year's symposium was "Securing the Enterprise: Data Strategy and Analytics / Cyber Resilience / Multi-Domain Ops" and provided a national forum for industry and government to work together to help solve the nation's challenges of cybersecurity, community cyber readiness and national defense.
In his keynote address Governor Ridge said, "the pace of change over the past several decades – economic, political and technological change – has accelerated faster than I am able to comprehend, and the future today is more complex, troubling and far less certain than in decades past." In these contemporary times, Ridge cited two great global challenges - global terrorism and cyber warfare - that are threatening democracies and are poised to affect our world today, tomorrow, and forevermore. After 911 we focused on the physical attack. Cyber-attacks were not considered a high priority. No iPhones, no iPads, no social media, no tweets from anybody yet. Fast forward 15 years and the cyber threat is real, and attacks are commonplace. It is a time of both unlimited promise and unlimited peril. It's not just the internet of things, it's the internet of everything. Estimates abound about the number of devices that may be connected to the internet by the year 2020. Some say 25 billion, some say 50, some say 70 billion. I don't think anyone really knows. All we know is that the number is huge. In this data rich world, with its proper use, we can be better, stronger, more efficient, and more profitable with the internet of everything. However, we also know that the digital connectivity will pose great challenges to both our economic and national security."
"We are now and will forever be engaged in this fifth dimension of war", Ridge said. "Every minute of every day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks out of the year, public sector, private sector, from multiple directions, our adversaries look to disrupt, distort, destroy, and steal from us. We know that the tactics of the cyber war are like those of the guerrilla war – they hit, and they hide. The digital warrior is camouflaged, and they can hide in the vast open and undefended space of the internet and remain undetected for an extended period of time - often only detected after the damage has occurred. In the world of multi-domain operations, we know the serious impact of a cyber-attack on logistics, command and control, communications, our national infrastructure, and even on our weapons systems. Our adversaries have publicly acknowledged their ability to build and utilize their cyber weapons. We have witnessed their use in the U.S., Georgia, Estonia, Ukraine and other parts of the world. There's an old Chinese proverb that states, flies never visit an egg with no crack. Well the internet is full of cracks. Our digital based economy and national apparatus is a target-rich environment. The barbarians are no longer at the gate. They are inside, and they are often exquisitely concealed. That is the permanent reality of the digital universe."
Ridge also talked about "the great benefits and great risks of artificial intelligence and how AI will change everything." He said, "the applications that will make autonomous vehicles safer, and will deliver health care more efficiently and effectively, will also hold the potential to challenge privacy and civil liberties in this country. AI will have significant impacts on the workforce of the future as it supports more and more automated processes, particularly, in the supply chain and the transportation sector. For intelligence, law enforcement and military professionals, AI is a new tool in your arsenal, and a new threat from our enemies. Securing the enterprise of the future requires the US to accelerate both our digital offensive capabilities and our defense-in-depth through the use of AI. We certainly know our adversaries are positioned to do so. Whoever becomes the ruler in this space will be the ruler of the world."
"To secure the promise and to confront the peril," Ridge said, "we must secure the enterprise. The challenge faced by those responsible for defending their country, their company or their organization from exploitation by our cyber adversaries is complex, dynamic and ever changing. To secure the enterprise it is imperative that DHS, DOD and the IC build and sustain meaningful partnerships with the private sector and the academic world to foster the development and deployment of all the capabilities that we need, including AI." Ridge also urged colleges and universities to develop new programs in collaboration with DHS and DOD to train cybersecurity workers more quickly, perhaps with two-year degrees instead of four-year degrees and through apprenticeships. Speaking to a largely military audience, and as a Chairman of the Board of the National Association on Disability, Ridge said that "the nation's military services should allow disabled soldiers to work defending the nation against cyberattacks. You don't need the physical skills for this cyber war. The hill they charge is a digital hill. They don't need to carry a 100-pound rucksack or be an expert rifleman. Their quick and agile mind is their weapon." Ridge also said that "we must remind ourselves that our rivals do not face legislative, philosophical, bureaucratic or regulatory barriers to collaboration and coordination. We do. In this fifth dimension of warfare, we need a sense of urgency, and we need to get serious about reducing the time to develop these capabilities and skills, and encourage closer collaboration. We need a whole of nation approach to cyber security to confront our enemies in the digital forevermore, because the digital sun will never set, it's just going to keep getting hotter."
Governor Ridge is the Executive Chairman of RIDGE-LANE Limited Partners, a social-impact merchant bank, with specialty business lines in Information Technology, Education and Sustainability, co-founded with financier R. Brad Lane, and a team of General Partners, Operating Partners, and Senior Advisors who have served at the highest levels of business, finance, and government. RIDGE-LANE LP structures public-private partnerships to finance social infrastructure and urban development projects across the U.S., as well as advisory to venture capital funds and corporate development services to commercialize and scale private technology companies across the globe. With offices in New York City, Washington DC and Palo Alto, RIDGE-LANE LP is a triple-bottom-line business that creates social impact and economic value by bridging the gap between the public and private sector and serving as a strategic partner to innovative companies through each phase of their growth - from ideation, to design, strategy and execution - leveraging our relationships and expertise to ensure our client's market penetration and success.
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