The Single Most Important Industry
by Brad Davis
DENVER, July 27, 2016 – SecureSet Academy, one of the nation’s first cybersecurity academies, graduated its first class of cybersecurity professionals in June. At the helm of the graduation, keynote speaker Bill Crowell gave an inspiring speech about the security industry and what it takes to succeed.
Crowell is a partner in Alsop-Louie, former deputy director of the NSA, and recognized cybersecurity expert.
So let’s welcome Bill Crowell. Thank you. [applause]
Crowell: Thank you. Thanks very much, Brad, and thanks to Bret and to Alex for inviting me here. So this is it guys [chuckles]. So what have you done? What are you about to embark on? Well, you are about to enter the single most important industry that has developed in this nation since the Industrial Revolution. What is happening to this nation – we are becoming a virtual environment, a virtual society. Every one of you today is carrying a network device that is connected to multiple computers all over the world – and literally all over the world, including some you wish you weren’t connected to [laughter], which is why you’re here. In the next three years, 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet that will not even have human beings connected to them directly. Everything from fitness devices to a lot of other sensors and measuring devices, and satellites, and other things. The nation is about to launch somewhere in the neighborhood of, in the next decade, 9,000 satellites that will have internet connectivity and will be doing jobs that we will all consider important.
There’s not anything that we do today that we are not doing through our connectedness and our ability to be connected to networks. From using Google Maps to get us from place to place, to our telephones, and our laptops, and our desktops, and so on. And every one of those has become in the last decade and a half a vulnerable device that allows people to exploit our nation and jeopardize our national security. I’ll give you an example that might excite you in terms of what you might be able to do to help protect the nation in the future. And by the way, I told you downstairs, the more you have a mission to do something specific in this, the better off you’ll be because that will guide your career decisions as you make your way through the security career. But I was told the day before yesterday before I came out here, by a member of the biotech industry, that they had developed a hypodermic needle that would revolutionize the delivery of medicines, and make it much easier to deliver medicines accurately and with less damage to human tissue and so on. They were going through the FDA approval cycle, clinical trials, the whole long thing that American pharmaceutical and biotech industry companies have to go through.
And before they got it to market, before they got FDA approval, it came to market internationally as a Chinese product that was essentially identical to the product that had been developed here in this country by a biotech industry. One of my partners often begins speeches like this with pictures, and one of the pictures he shows is a picture of the F-35 Joint Fighter that was developed in this country, that is Stealth, and that is the mainstay of the next generation of our defensive systems alongside a picture of the most recent Chinese fighter that looks identical. I once presented to Senator Moynihan a set of pictures very much like that. One of the pictures was a picture of Oppenheimer, the developer of the Manhattan Project and the US atom bomb Fat Boy, and the other picture was of a Russian scientist standing next to their first atomic bomb. The striking thing about the photos were the bombs were identical. But they couldn’t get it through cyber attacks in those days. They had to recruit people to go out and be successful.
Today people don’t have to do that. They do it through cyber attack means. I was asked downstairs by one of you, “What’s the future of warfare?” I guess, one of the professors here. What’s the future of warfare in terms of cyber? Are we going to see cyber wars? And the answer is yes, we are. We’re probably already in that realm of possibility today, particularly as it relates to control systems that control the buildings we work in, the energy sources that we have, the dams that we have and operate. I was just fishing on the Henry’s Fork two weeks ago and the control system on the Henry’s Fork Dam “broke” and all a sudden the flows on the river doubled and I didn’t catch many fish that day. I hope that’s the worst that could happen to us, but that could have been a cyber attack. It wasn’t; it was just a failure of software, but a cyber attack can cause the failure of software. So the point is you have an opportunity ahead of you to be a part of that whole range of national economic and national defense kinds of activities, whether it’s some small company delivering products to the public, or a government agency, or a large enterprise that is doing aerospace, or space, or energy kinds of things. You can have a part of helping to defend them from nation states, cyber criminals, and just general bad guys. So it is real opportunity.
I was asked to say something about– well, how do you manage your career? Well, first advice I’d give you is stay in touch with these guys. They’re awesome. They can help you and will help you, because they’re quite willing to, and they want to make this business a success. And the way they will is by making you all successes. But the second thing is grab an ideal out there. Grab something you want to accomplish, and set that as your goal. And don’t make your career decisions on the basis of how much money you’ll make, but make them on the basis of how much you’ll get to accomplish. And if you accomplish those goals, I guarantee you that money will come with it. In particular, the more you can do to diversify and to build networks of people that you can trust to help you, because this is no longer a solo kind of experience. This is a team effort, and you need to build teams around you that you can rely on that will help you get through to the next level of this career.
Last thing is I really applaud Secure Set for having not only have this idea of building a way for people to gain real experience and real knowledge and real skills, but executing on it. It’s not easy to start a new company and to turn it into something that really produces the results you said you were going to produce when you started. They’ve not had to pivot. They set out with a goal and they are achieving that goal. And I think you should be proud to be part of the first class that graduates from Secure Set. So congratulations to you all, and I hope your families are proud of you, and that you’ll have a great deal of success in the future. Thank you. [applause]
SecureSet is the nation’s first cybersecurity accelerator and academy. Headquartered in Denver and supported by experienced and prestigious leaders in government, business, military and higher education, SecureSet is bringing an array of cybersecurity resources together to help innovate the next generation of cybersecurity technology, and educate thousands to fill the nation’s cybersecurity job gap. Learn more atwww.secureset.com or www.secureset.com/academy.
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