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The role of the IAD; NSA Director speaks out about collaborating and the latest in-demand technology field
October 29, 2010
On Wednesday, October 27, the Innovation and Leadership Institute Speaker Series hosted Debora Plunkett, one of the top government officials in cybersecurity and the director of the Information Assurance Directorate (IAD) at the National Security Agency.
Being as open as a senior government official could be regarding the subject matter, the 26-year veteran of the NSA spoke of the importance of cybersecurity today, the growing industry both privately and in the agency, and the role the Information Assurance Directorate has in helping improve national security.
“It was indeed a pleasure to host Ms. Plunkett for our ILI President's forum,” commented Dr. Vic Maconachy, vice president for academic affairs. “I believe that she presented a brilliant view of our nation’s stake in information assurance. Her perspective and insights portrayed the needs for constant cyber vigilance and for a skilled cybersecurity workforce, and she also saw the growth and dedication of resources which Capitol College is investing in this critical area.”
The IAD is the focal point for cybersecurity, cryptography, and information systems security for all national security systems. Specific responsibilities include developing and deploying IA capabilities, research and development activities to generate IA techniques and solutions, ensuring the availability of IA products and solutions, and understanding the threat to and vulnerability of national security systems.
In addition to her current position, Plunkett previously served as the deputy director of IAD, and as assistant deputy director for customer relationships in the SIGINT Directorate. She was responsible for determining SIGINT dissemination policy and practices, and ensuring mechanisms were in place to promote the widest possible distribution of NSA products while enabling the protection of sensitive sources and methods.
Plunkett spoke significantly on the subject of recruiting, attracting, and retaining the best of today’s talented computer professionals. Information assurance was not too long ago seen as unwelcoming, hard to deal with, and too complex; now, Plunkett says “our customers are asking for security like never before.” In response to questions about how academia and private industry can best serve the NSA in the future, Plunkett offered four solutions:
Look for every opportunity to collaborate – we can only get to a better spot by working together.
Look to share data – we need to find ways in which we can better share our “secrets” with each other
Be strong champions for information assurance – use whatever opportunities we have to help the nation understand the importance of cybersecurity, and educate them on what’s being done now.
Introduce security where you can – most breakdowns in security happen at a basic level, a level that can be remedied simply by paying attention to the small things. Be sure to implement security in a logical manner where it counts – this could help the NSA by reducing the amount of resources the agency needs to spend in terms of time and energy on “simple problems.”
Lastly, to students Plunkett gives the charge to “stay abreast of the current news, and stay educated about what’s going on in the industry today. You are a critical component of the cadre of professionals we need to serve our customers.”
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