Director of US Cyber Defense Agency focused on protecting Washington state agencies from attack

The head of the federal government’s newest agency is building a field force in Seattle to better help local and state governments protect critical infrastructure.

SEATTLE — From the way we get gas at the pump, groceries at the store, water and electricity, everything is digitally connected and vulnerable to cyber threats.

Earlier this year, 650,000 people were affected by a data breach at the Washington State Department of Licensing.

“These entities are what I call goal rich but resource poor,” said Jen Easterly, the director of the national Cyber ​​Defense Agency, or CISA.

Easterly leads the federal government’s newest agency and is building a field force in Seattle to better help local and state governments protect critical infrastructure.

“It’s these entities that we need to work hand-in-hand with to provide them with free services, to provide them with the support, resources and skills to defend themselves,” Easterly said.

Easterly met with various agencies this week, including public utilities and King County’s Director of Elections, as threats to voting infrastructure mount.

“To ensure that Americans and people here in King County can have confidence in the safety and integrity of this process as they go to the ballot box,” Easterly said.

CISA also works with large companies like Amazon. The industry giant is working on developing a curriculum for children ages K-12 so they are cybersecurity-savvy.

“Cybersecurity fundamentals is something we should be teaching kids how to stay safe online and how to prevent someone from taking advantage of you,” said Steve Schmidt, chief security officer, Amazon.

Amazon said it wants people to have access to cybersecurity skills to advance their careers. The company has invested $1.2 billion in free training for its employees and hundreds of millions of dollars to offer free cloud computing training to 29 million people.

At Amazon headquarters on Thursday, industry, academia and government discussed how to teach kids about cybersecurity and create a future pipeline of workforce to fill 700,000 jobs.

“Build skills that will help people better protect themselves, and also find a career that gives them a rewarding, engaging opportunity and, on the other end, some pretty well-paying jobs if they choose to go down that path,” said Schmidt.

Leading cyber defenders say the sooner the better to build a future workforce to defend the nation.

“Cyber ​​isn’t a scary technical thing, it’s something that’s fun and cool and you can make a real career out of it,” Easterly said.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/seattle/us-cyber-defense-agency-seattle-data-breach/281-0cd7e7bd-d575-44c1-93d8-ec3dac0ba6e6 Director of US Cyber Defense Agency focused on protecting Washington state agencies from attack

Alley Einstein

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