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KHW 9952

Lim Thian Chin (second from left) Singapore’s Senior Assistant Director for Critical Information Infrastructure Division,  Cyber Security Agency poses with his Program for Cyber Security Studies certificate.  PCSS is a unique, two-week program on cyber security studies offered once a year at the George C. Marshall European Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The course brings together international government and military leaders to reach a shared understanding of international and country specific approaches to a more secure, global cyber network and build partnerships to resolve shared challenges.  Also picture (left to right) are:  PCSS Course Director Phil Lark; Chin; Seminar Leader U.S. Navy Capt. Pamela Ball, and assistant seminar leader Mika Kerttunen.  (Marshall Center Photo by Karl Heinz Wedhorn /RELEASED)

Nearly 100 cyber security practitioners from 49 countries divided into seven groups and developed regional cyber security strategies for three U.S. combatant commands, the European Union, a coalition of ten countries and the world, as the final course exercise.

The exercise was part of a “Cyber Challenge” and was the culmination exercise of the two and a half week (12 training day) Program for Cyber Security Studies resident course at the George C. Marshall European Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. 

“The challenge was designed to reinforce the information participants received while they were here and to provide them the opportunity to build trust and strengthen personal relationships with each other,” said Professor Phil Lark, director of PCSS.

Listening to each seminar share their cyber security recommendations for transnational cyber security strategies, a common cybersecurity vision came into focus:  the cyber environment should be safe, secure and open to everyone.  Developing international norms in cyber security is important.    

PCSS aims to develop enduring personal relationships from the course attendees.  Nonetheless, the real difficult work is just beginning for these international leaders as PCSS ends. 

“I think you are all well prepared to return home and lead your organizations in cybersecurity strategy and policy experts.  But you can’t do it by yourselves.  You need to get your leadership and your politicians pulling in the same direction.  It’s a political challenge,” said George C. Marshall European Center Director Keith Dayton to the participants in his farewell remarks. 

For one student who is now helping write the cyber security strategy for the eastern European country of Moldova, Dayton’s words were on-the-mark.

“Cybersecurity is politics,” said Natalia Spinu who is in charge of her nation’s Cyber Security Center.  “Cybersecurity is not technical because if you don’t have political support, then you won’t get anything done.  What is needed is a shared vision.”

Participants heard from more than 40 experts and national leaders in cybersecurity.  It’s a topic that can’t be ignored because of the implications that face each respective country.  Two days earlier, participants heard from U.S Department of Homeland Security Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications Gregory Touhill who stressed the importance of managing risk in today’s cyber world.

“What keeps me awake at night is the protection of our industrial control systems.  We find that a lot of those industrial control systems, the computers, the human interfaces that control critical infrastructure, are not adequately controlled.  They are connected to the internet without adequate protections in some cases.  When they were invented and installed, cybersecurity wasn’t a concern.  They are old.  They were bolted on. And we need a better job protecting them,” said Touhill.

The final speaker for the Marshall Center’s Program for Cyber Security Studies was the U.S. National intelligence Officer for Cyber Issues Sean Kanuck.  The future threat was driven home for the students one last time.

“For the last three years, cybersecurity has been the leading national security threat that our Director of National Intelligence has led his testimony with Congress with.  There is a reason.  Not only is cybersecurity a challenge and threat in its own right, it’s also the means and enabler through which the other security threats are conducted, said Kanuck. 

The unique nature of the Marshall Center’s PCSS class was not lost on the roster of subject matter speakers or the 86 participants who had attended other cyber-related courses.  Lim Thian Chin traveled from Singapore when he is the Senior Assistant Director for Critical Information Infrastructure Division in his nation’s Cyber Security Agency. 

“I thought this was a fantastic class.  The diversity, the exposure, the diverse perspectives of the participants is a huge plus point.  I am leaving with the perspectives of South America, America, and the rest of the world,” said Chin.  “When I go back to Singapore, I want to focus on building confidence in my managers, especially in the different sectors before we start to partner and push any new programs with them.”

Jose Ricardo Souza Camelo is in charge of the Brazil’s Cyber Defense Center Operation Division.  The PCSS class was especially important to him as he helps prepares his nation to host national events following this year’s Olympic Games. 

“The most important lesson learned is the procedures needed to protect the network during major events.  Here when we listened to the speakers we have the opportunity to visualize the information or some approach or process to help us review our plans,” said Souza Camelo. 

Senior executives from private industry who stressed the importance of public and private partnerships for mutual cybersecurity solutions also shared their thoughts on what PCSS offers to both participants and speakers. Jan Neutze, Microsoft’s Director of Cybersecurity Policy in Europe, Middle East, and Africa spoke at PCSS for the first time. 

“I’m highly impressed with the Cyber Security Program here at the Marshall Center.  I think it’s a very unique program.  I haven’t seen anything like it in my work across my region, Middle East and Africa.  It comes close to bringing together people from both the policy but also the operational and technical domains to focus around cyber security challenges and also bringing in some interesting speakers from across different domains.  That combination is exactly what’s needed because often times we don’t talk together across various dimensions.  From my perspective, we’d like to see this grow and see other organizations in other parts of the world adopt similar approach.  I think there is a lot to learn from what the Marshall Center is doing,” Neutze said. 

PCSS is offered in December.  According to Lark, the Marshall Center intends to continue and develop the resident course as long as funding is available through the U.S. Department of Defense and the German Minister of Defense. 

PCSS is offered in December at the Marshall Center. 

More information on PCSS can be found here.