Heather Kuldell | Nextgov | October 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

Why the Government Needs Cyber Translators

Alexander Supertramp/Shutterstock.com

Cybersecurity professionals will need more than their technical abilities to tackle government challenges, according to two agency IT security officials.

Jeanette Hanna-Ruiz, NASA’s associate chief information officer for IT security and senior agency information security official, sees her role as helping agency employees understand why her team does certain things, like swap an employee’s Mac for PC.

“Our challenge going forward is to talk to our peers at these organizations who don’t necessarily know about security,” she said Tuesday at Fedstival’s The Next Tech event hosted by Government Executive and Nextgov. “I want to speak to them in a language they understand.”

» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.

Translating cyber speak also is a priority for Office of Personnel Management Chief Information Security Officer Cord Chase. He has weekly meetings with agency leadership and other CXOs to keep them on the same page when it comes to risks and initiatives.

One of Chase’s challenges since starting his position four months ago has been shutting down shadow IT, the devices, processes and workarounds employees use that the agency never authorized. He said it took a while to convince people he wanted to protect them, not necessarily shut them down.

CISOs should worry about security, but other employees need to be able to focus on doing their jobs, Hanna-Ruiz said.

“We need to automate security so it’s the white noise of their life,” she said. “We need to have empathy and compassion about that.”

Such “cyber translation” skills aren't just for talking to internal employees. Agencies need people such as lawyers, communications professionals and procurement specialists for less technical, cyber-related roles. For example, Hanna-Ruiz said the government needs “a procurement brain married with a cyber brain” to help agencies address supply-chain concerns.

“In order to come and work at OPM, you not only need to have an operational background; you need a governance background,” Chase said.


Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.