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CHIPS Articles: San Diego Leads Discussions for Regional Cyber Transformation

San Diego Leads Discussions for Regional Cyber Transformation
By Dawn M. Stankus, SPAWAR Public Affairs - February 8, 2017
San Diego leaders in industry, academia and the military met at the Downtown San Diego Public Library to discuss cyber readiness and response, as well as cyber careers in the region, Feb. 3.

During the discussion, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) was identified by San Diego's Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE) as a key player in these efforts.

Retired Rear Adm. Ken Slaght, CCOE co-chair and president, and former SPAWAR commander, stated that SPAWAR brings tremendous cyber readiness capability to the San Diego area and overall region.

"San Diego possesses a unique asset: SPAWAR," said Slaght. "SPAWAR in San Diego employs over 3,000 people, military and civilian, who are committed to addressing cyber threats and readiness locally. These men and women are protecting our city and it is important that the City of San Diego continues to enhance their partnership with SPAWAR as we move into the future of inevitable cyber challenges."

John Valencia, executive director, City of San Diego's Office of Homeland Security, discussed the importance of building a cyber-community in the region.

"In San Diego, we are already working collectively with federal, state and local agencies," said Valencia. "By collaborating together as individuals, a society and a nation, we can ignite a greater transformation for our overall region. In my opinion, the next threat to our nation is going to be something unpredictable, something that very few people have envisioned. Conversations like the one held with CCOE and community leaders today will better prepare us."

Brian Marsh, SPAWAR deputy chief engineer, emphasized that planning for potential cyber threats means challenging the atmosphere in which cyber responders train.

"It can be easy to think about cybersecurity problems and challenges when we are working in a constant, predictable environment," said Marsh. "At SPAWAR, our engineers are constantly working in constructive and creative ways to approach and adapt to our nation's evolving adversaries. We need to think about how to be resilient in this field and not just responsive."

The conversations held were just the beginning to a much larger CCOE initiative to organize a San Diego hacking event in Fall 2017. Slaght explained that CCOE, alongside SPAWAR and city leaders, plans to host this event to learn more about the city's overall cyber infrastructure and to encourage collective thinking across the region.

"San Diego is uniquely poised to capitalize on its position as a leader in cybersecurity because of the many diverse companies, organizations and people who call the region home and see the value in protecting cyberspace," said Slaght. "Discussions like these bring several stakeholders together who help make our region a national epicenter for cybersecurity innovation."

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