20 Cyber-Centric Scenes From Symantec's Government Symposium


Symantec's annual Government Symposium drew about 1,200 attendees to the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. Wednesday. At the conference, they had a chance to hear not only from Symantec executives but also top government leaders in cybersecurity and infrastructure offer perspective on everything from cyber warfare to the promise of cloud computing.

Here's a look at what they saw.

Morning Call

Things got rolling bright and early on the conference floor, whose exhibit hall included Symantec vendor partners like HP, Dell and Red Hat, and top Symantec solution providers like Carahsoft and DLT Solutions.

Getting Better?

GiGi Schumm, vice president and general manager, Symantec Public Sector, offered attendees the opportunity to participate in a crowd-sourced survey, answering questions like "Do you feel the state of cybersecurity has improved in the last 12 months?"

Threat Explosion

Enrique Salem, Symantec's President and CEO, told attendees that in 2008, Symantec isused 1.6 million signatures for its antimalware products, indicating that the number of cyberattacks had been higher not only than in previous years but in the previous 17 years combined. In 2009, Salem said, the number grew to 2.9 million signatures, and is expected to keep growing this year.

Czar's View

Howard Schmidt, the Obama Administration's top cybersecurity official, told attendees in the morning keynote that cybersecurity policy can't just be about technology.

"There's always a necessity to do awareness and education of the end user. But you're not trying to teach the end user how to be a security expert," said Schmidt, who was appointed special assistant to the president and cybersecurity coordinator, Executive Office of the President, in December 2009. "We can't expect the end users who are not in this business to accumulate the intellectual capital that you have to be more secure."

Holding Back Innovation

If cybersecurity strategy doesn't advance, Schmidt said, it'll not only slow U.S. defense efforts but also stifle online innovation.

"Sitting there in a room with entrepreneurs and developers asking, "What do you want to do next?' -- we can't have that discussion without someone talking about how it can be compromised," he said. "The net effect is that it slows down what we're trying to do."


Slim Government Down?

Robert Otto, executive vice president at Agilex and former CTO of the U.S Postal Service, led a breakout session on IT consolidation in the public sector titled "Do Good Things Always Come In Small(er) Packages?"

Cloud Hype, Cloud Reality

Cloud computing was among the big themes of the day. John Bordwine, (left), CTO, Public Sector for Symantec, and Robert Carey, CIO of the Department of the Navy, urged attendees to look past hype and approach discussions of cloud from a pragmatic, day-to-day use case viewpoint.

Smart Grid Savvy

Smart Grid was another hot topic, with a number of solution providers wondering how smart grid opportunities -- including the use of technology to make energy and utilities more efficient -- trickle down to them. Addressing the subject at another panel were (left to right): Annabelle Lee, senior cyber security strategist, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); Bill Hunteman, senior advisor for cyber security, Department of Energy; and Jose Iglesias, vice president, global solutions, Symantec.

Do You Need To Know?

Jim Flyzik, president of Bethesda, Md.-based consultancy, The Flyzik Group, joined fellow technologists to discuss information sharing, and the slippery subject of "need to know" information versus "need to share" information.

Paper Pile-ups

Tony Sager, chief of the Vulnerability Analysis and Operations Group within the Information Assurance Directorate at the National Security Agency, helped lead a discussion on security information protocols in government and whether they're too often hampered by paperwork.


Strong opinions were the order of the day in a session on e-policy discovery and automation, including from (left to right) James Soliday, engineering manager for DLT Solutions; Annie Goranson, discovery attorney for Symantec; John Moses, director, coalition strategies division, Office of Environmental Information at the Environmental Protection Agency; and Catherine Teti, managing director for knowledge services and chief agency privacy officer at the Government Accountability Office.

State Of The Cybersecurity Union

Erik Hopkins, professional staff, Federal Financial Management Subcommittee, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, joined Jacob Olcott, counsel, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and other panelists to talk "state of the cyber security union," and policy and pieces of legislation moving around Capitol Hill.

Overly Sensitive?

Chuck McGann, corporate information security officer, U.S. Postal Services, was among panelists in a packed session on protecting sensitive data, and what tools government agencies need at their disposal.

Winners Circle

Symantec issued its 2010 Cyber 7 Awards for excellence in public sector security efforts.

Symantec President and CEO Enrique Salem, (left); and GiGi Schumm, Symantec vice president and general manager, Symantec Public Sector, (right) presented the awards to Ron Ross, Senior Computer Scientist, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Erik Hopkins (accepting for Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.), Michael Dent, CISO for Fairfax County Government, Fairfax, Va.; Doug Jacobson, Professor and Director of Iowa State University Information Assurance Center; Chuck McGann,corporate information security officer, U.S. Postal Services.

Also receiving the award were Trent Carpenter, CISO for the State of Michigan; Priscilla Guthrie, CIO, Office of the Director of National Intelligence; and Will Pelgrin, director, New York State Office of Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure Coordination.

Stroke Of Genius

The luncheon keynote was delivered by Major General Suzanne M. Vautrinot, director of plans and policy, U.S. Cyber Command, U.S. Strategic Command.

Vautrinot told attendees that arriving at the right cybersecurity policy would mean a "stroke of genius" from public and private sector talents alike.

"That's a tall order," she said. "There should be no compromise."

Weakest Links?

Vautrinot said that the U.S.'s national defense strategy and the need for cybersecurity measures are now inextricable.

"The operative word is 'we,'" she said. "We live in a world where a nation's security is dependent in no small part of security awareness from all of us."

"We are only as strong as the weakest link," Vautrinot warned.

Idea Exchange

There was further insight from Clark Smith, executive for programs and technology, Office of the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Donna Roy, executive director, National Information Exchange Model.

Road Ahead

John McCumber, chief strategist, public sector group, Symantec, led a session on transparency in constituent services alongside executives from the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other organizations.

Carahsoft Cares

Longtime government solution provider and VAR 500 perennial, Carahsoft, was out in force in the exhibit area...

DLT Delivers

...as was another VAR 500 staple, DLT Solutions, and several of its partners like Kerrin Russell (right), field marketing manager, public sector at data integration software vendor Informatica.