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By Gregory Hale
It is very easy to think the government does it’s cyber security thing and the private sector does theirs, but one of the strong messages that continues to come out of the ICSJWG Spring Conference here in Savannah, GA, is the two entities are working well together – and need to make stronger ties for the future. Partnerships.
That concept was the idea behind Mark Weatherford’s keynote address Wednesday morning.

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“We see the threats and the cyber incidents growing on a daily basis,” said Weatherford, deputy under secretary for cyber security at the Department of Homeland Security National Protection and Programs Directorate. “We are trying to raise the nation’s cyber security IQ. Cyber security is changing the world much like steam and electricity did years ago.”

Part of that change hitting the world and this industry in particular is the notion we need more people focused on cyber security as a career. The industry, and even DHS, needs to cultivate younger people, like college age kids, to become cyber security professionals, he said.

More cyber security workers are needed, Weatherford said, because just look at the numbers. Last year alone, the cost of cyber attacks alone was at $385 billion, while illegal drugs were under $250 billion. In addition, Weatherford there was a 200 percent increase in incidents reported to ICS-CERT in fiscal year 2010 to 2011. This year they are projecting the number to increase even more. In addition, there were 106,000 incident reports and 5,200 advisories sent out in 2011, he said.

Schneider Bold

Incident reports have gone up considerably ever since news of the Stuxnet attacks became public. Stuxnet demonstrated clearly it was possible to hit industrial control systems and showed there could be consequences, Weatherford said.

“Stuxnet and Duqu kept us awake many nights,” he said.

That is why keeping an eye on critical infrastructure is vital for DHS.

“Industrial control systems are a priority for us and it has the attention of a lot of people in Washington,” Weatherford said.

That is one of the reasons why government needs to partner with the private sector.

“We understand no one can do this on their own,” Weatherford said. “We must work together to understand the threat and find solutions.”

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