Rogers: Silicon Valley can benefit from CYBERCOM outreach

Michael Rogers

"If we can't generate value for both [sides], that's not a partnership," Adm. Michael Rogers, head of U.S. Cyber Command, said at the annual RSA conference.


For U.S. Cyber Command's nascent outreach to Silicon Valley to be successful, Adm. Michael Rogers knows, the private sector must get tangible benefits from it.

"If we can't generate value for both [sides], that's not a partnership," Rogers, who heads both Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, said at the annual RSA conference in downtown San Francisco. "Then it becomes a transaction."

Cyber Command has a representative at the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, the office Defense Secretary Ash Carter set up last year to bridge an oft-cited divide between federal acquisition practices and emerging technologies. Military reservists were deliberately chosen to staff DIUX, Rogers said, because they are more likely to be plugged into tech advancements in Silicon Valley.

The conference, billed as the largest IT security event in the world, draws a motley crowd of cryptographers, vendors and federal officials.  Rogers used his platform at RSA to try to persuade skeptics to apply their IT talents to government missions, and to Cyber Command and the NSA in particular.

That task has been complicated by the revelations of NSA surveillance that came from former contractor Edward Snowden. Rogers followed a panel of cryptographic experts, some of whom were critical of the NSA, citing evidence that the agency had subverted a cryptographic standard known as Dual_EC_DRBG.  

Rogers tried to lighten the mood as he took the stage by calling it "an interesting panel to follow" as the NSA director.

"In many ways we're not even talking to each other," Rogers said of the dialogue between government and tech representatives. "We're just talking past each other." The relationship experienced new friction after a federal court order instructed Apple to help unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooters.

Rogers spoke directly to the audience, appealing to patriotism in calling for policymaking that delivers security and privacy. "We [have] to figure out how we meet those two imperatives, because it can't be one or another," he said.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is a former FCW staff writer.


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