British, Colorado Springs cybersecurity experts compare notes in panel discussion

March 16, 2017 Updated: March 16, 2017 at 4:13 pm
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National Cybersecurity Center (Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette)

Just a month after formally opening a similar facility in London, British cyber-experts Thursday compared notes with officials from the National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs and a cybersecurity think tank at the Air Force Academy during a panel discussion at Penrose House.

While both centers are designed to be a resource for both government agencies and businesses, the National Cyber Security Centre in London is operated by the parent organization of the nation's intelligence services and the Colorado facility is operated by a nonprofit organization funded with donations and membership fees. The London center began operating in October and was formally opened Feb. 14 by Queen Elizabeth; the Colorado Springs center began operating in November and will move into its permanent location at 3650 N. Nevada Ave. in July.

The National Cyber Security Centre "will be the national center of experience for advice and guidance for businesses that want to know what good cyber security practices looks like," John Nicholson, first secretary of cyber policy in the Foreign and Security Policy Group of the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., said during the discussion. "We are bringing a number of functions to one place to create a one-stop-shop for small, medium and large enterprises and to have government, academia and industry work together" on cybersecurity problems and solutions.

The Colorado Springs center is designed to offer help to small and mid-sized businesses to combat cybersecurity threats, do research on such threats and educate public officials about cybersecurity, including a three-day workshop in November that attracted more than 300 participants, including 77 elected officials from 10 states. The center is expected to fuel a major expansion of the local cybersecurity industry that has developed in recent years around Colorado Springs-area military commands and operations dedicated to cybersecurity.

The British government is trying to both raise awareness of cybersecurity threats and boost the number of college graduates and others with training to work in the industry, Ros Redfern, head of cyber innovation and growth for the British government's Cyber and Government Security Directorate, said during the discussion. She and Ed Rios, CEO of the local center, agreed that the cybersecurity industry worldwide faces a labor shortage in filling current job openings that probably will grow more acute amid the industry's rapid expansion.

Redfern said the British center also is housing industry cybersecurity experts to "tackle strategic issues. This is a partnership with industry with industry running it." The British government also is trying to help foster cybersecurity startups through a network of business incubators and accelerators and improving access to funding.

Col. Jeffrey Collins, who heads Air Force Cyberworx at the Air Force Academy, said during the panel that the public-private research organization he heads is designed to speed the use of new cybersecurity technology in the Air Force and other military branches "at the speed of industry."

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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