William N. Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology (DHS), delivered the opening keynote at ISC West (the largest security event in the United States) on Wednesday morning. If you didn’t get a chance to see the presentation, or even attend the conference, here are 3 key takeaways from the talk.
1. Physical must meet cyber.
Fittingly, Bryan mentioned, the highest attended session during yesterday’s Day 0 was the Convergence of Physical and Cybersecurity: a Joint Responsibility.
This foreshadowed the focus of Bryan’s talk: the importance of being prepared for technology-fueled risks. “As AI and other technologies are developed, security mitigations should also be developed in a perfect world,” he said. “But that’s not happening. We’ve got to do a better job of that.”
Bryan celebrated the innovation of AI and autonomous systems, proclaiming they’re a benefit to mankind. But, he asserted, it’s important to be aware that not everyone thinks that way.
2. Drones are a focus.
“We want drones in the national airspace,” he said. “But we need to trust they fly safely, securely, and responsibly, first.”
Bryan then made reference for the need of a trusted identification for drones. “I have no problem picturing sitting on my front porch, watching my monthly Nutrisystem be delivered by a drone. But I need to know there’s food in that box and not something else.”
Bryan ended his spiel on UAS by citing the 54 drone incursions detected in restricted airspace during Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta,.“I’m not saying any were necessarily flying for the wrong purposes,” he said. “It’s just something to consider.”
3. Government needs private sector’s help.
Traditional R & D techniques aren’t going to get the job done, said Bryan. Key stakeholders across various departments of the Federal Government and private sectors must collaborate to ensure that security advances at the same rate that technology does. One hope for such collaboration was showcased in a video about DHS and biometrics. DHS is the largest biometrics user today, and are currently installed in 15 airports.
Biometrics is integral to physical security because it quickly and automatically indicates who’s entering and exiting a restricted area. The most obvious analogue to biometrics in the drone space is remote identification. As Bryan hinted at, in echoing previous sentiments from regulators, government, and the private sector--we need a trusted, secure authority that can identify drones, and authenticate those identities.
October of 2018 was a good first step, when the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 was signed into law, granting federal authorities the power to mitigate drones when necessary.
But, since October there hasn't been much movement from the FAA to implement a rollout strategy for the federal mandate. How quickly that changes remains to be seen. According to Bryan, that is likely dependent on a future collaboration of business and government.
On Friday, March 22nd in Frankfurt, a drone once again flew too close to a plane. Will it take a tragedy before change is demanded?
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