Federal Ignite John Ratcliffe

‘Today, Cybersecurity is National Security’: Rep. Ratcliffe Keynote

Palo Alto Networks’ Federal Ignite 17 conference kicked off at the Grand Hyatt Washington, DC , recently, with a morning keynote by Congressman John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), who praised the private sector doing the bulk of the work in keeping the Internet safe. (Palo Alto Networks is Security Roundtable’s parent company.)

“What’s happening right now is largely that the private sector is protecting cyber infrastructure,” he told the 200 or so attendees at the event. “Nothing can replace the expertise of those whose jobs and livelihood rely on keeping networks and businesses safe. But Congress and industry must work together.”

According to Ratcliffe, “Cybersecurity has become national security, and all of us have to be part of this long-term issue.” To that end, he said that all involved must define the objectives for future cybersecurity preparedness, asking the question: “Can we ultimately make the Internet safe?”

Ratcliffe explained that he believes that we already have much of the innovation and technology in place to get started. “We have the advantages to solve a set of problems with tools that already exist,” he noted. But as the threats expand—especially through the increase in devices connected via the Internet of things (IoT)—“the size of the attack surface grows,” which calls for coordination, leadership, and execution, he said. “This might be aspirational, but it is not theoretical—it is readily achievable right now.”

Rising to the challenge

The good news, said the Congressman, is that we are rising to the challenge. Initiatives such as the Cyber Threat Alliance, behind which Palo Alto Networks is a driving force, raise the bar in terms of information sharing. “This is something all of society will benefit from,” said Ratcliffe.

In the end, he said, taking advantage of the private sector is the key to government’s handling of cybersecurity. “It’s time to step forward and make this a national priority. The time has come to make the theoretical real.”