Admiral Atkin, you have been selected for #TiffinTuesdays for your involvement in the Maritime Risk Symposium. As a retired Coast Guard member and former DoD Acting Assistant Secretary, you have your finger on the pulse of cyber security and know the threats and risks to our nation.
Why is cybersecurity so important to the people of our country?
Cybersecurity protects our way of life. As a society and individuals, we rely on technology to make our lives better, more efficient and easier….technology improves our electrical system, communications network, financial system and medical care. Hackers, cyber terrorists, nation-state actors and cyber criminals persistently look for opportunities to access, intimidate, steal and damage through the cyber domain. Improving cybersecurity, both through hardware/software improvements and cyber hygiene is critical – changing the cyber culture to encourage strong passwords, updating software, and not responding to phishing attempts must be a priority.
How did you get involved with the Symposium?
I got involved with the Symposium through Vice Admiral Rob Parker, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired). Rob and I were talking about cyber threats and cyber security when he mentioned the Symposium – I immediately asked if I could get involved. As a retired Coast Guard member and former DoD Acting Assistant Secretary, I know that the cyber risk to the marine transportation system is high and getting all the stakeholders together is extremely important to our nation.
Who/what groups will be attending the Symposium and why?
Leaders from every facet of the marine transportation system should attend this Symposium. Protecting and providing cybersecurity is a team sport that requires everyone to work together, share information, and advocate for improved cybersecurity. Folks from the private sector; federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments; academics; and non-governmental organizations should all plan on attending and contributing.
What is your background in cybersecurity?
I first got involved in the cyber domain as the Assistant Commandant for Intelligence and Criminal Investigations with the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard was maturing in the cyber domain and was just beginning a broader focus on cybersecurity. During my time with the Department of Defense as the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense and Principal Cyber Advisor (PCA), I led the development of cyber policy on cyber operations, cybersecurity, cyber mission force development, and cyber deterrence. With the Cyber Policy team and PCA staff, we coordinated DoD cyber activities internally in the Department, across the federal government and with our international partners.
Have you been involved in other Symposiums? Is there anything special/new/exciting coming to this year’s Symposium?
I have been involved with other symposiums and events focused on the cyber domain. This year’s Maritime Risk Symposium is exciting because of the focus on cybersecurity and the adaptive cyber landscape. The cyber threat risk is accelerating and changing at a rapid pace. The need for increased information sharing and collaboration is required to stay ahead of our adversaries and those that wish to do us harm. Cybersecurity and cyber defense is a “whole-of-nation” effort – all of us must work together and this Symposium is a great step forward.