The Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity will convene at the University of Houston on Thursday, July 14, to discuss the challenges and opportunities for securing critical infrastructure — essential assets such as electric utilities, oil and gas production, drinking water supply, rail systems, pipelines and transportation. Representatives from the energy, utilities and technology sectors as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are expected to discuss issues ranging from preventing cyber breaches, such as threats posed by hackers, foreign governments and terrorists, to keeping critical assets operating. Panelists will discuss the challenges and opportunities for private industry, state and local governments to ensure the resiliency of critical assets.
Houston's energy economy and UH's robust cybersecurity and cyber defense programs make the city a natural host site for the commission's meeting. Among the panelists with expertise in this area is Art Conklin, director of the UH Center for Information Security Research and Education (CISRE) and associate professor in the College of Technology. Conklin is principal investigator for a $1.1 million federal grant to improve security for critical energy infrastructure. He and his colleagues have expertise in security for critical infrastructure, with previous work involving water, utilities, and oil and gas delivery. He testified before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in January. Conklin will discuss what he calls a critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals and the need for a public call to action to help close the gap with securing critical infrastructure.
The University of Houston has responded to the need to educate and train more cybersecurity professionals. UH educational and research programs in cybersecurity and cyber defense have been recognized nationally. UH is one of only three universities in Texas with dual designation by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The Commission's meeting at the University of Houston is hosted by the UH Center for Information Security Research and Education, the UH Office of Governmental and Community Relations and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST is the Federal agency directed to support the Commission as it carries out its mission.
The nonpartisan commission is part of President Obama's Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) announced earlier this year. The commission is tasked with making detailed short-term and long-term recommendations to strengthen cybersecurity in the public and private sectors.
The meeting will include opening remarks from the Sam Palmisano, vice chair of the Commission and former CEO of IBM, followed by a series of panels featuring industry leaders and cybersecurity experts from federal and local government and private industry.
WHAT: Open meeting of the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity at University of Houston featuring expert panelists from energy, utilities and technology sectors
WHEN: July 14, 9a.m.- 5 p.m.
WHERE: University of Houston Hilton, Conrad room
WHO: Meeting is open to the public; registration is requested.
Photo Credit: Yuri Samoilov/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)