DHS to hold cyber-focused industry day

The Department of Homeland Security will hold an event Aug. 16 in Arlington, Va., to engage with "large and small companies interested in cybersecurity contracting."

The Department of Homeland Security will hold an August industry day focused on public/private collaboration for cybersecurity defense.

According to a special notice posted on FedBizOpps, DHS' Office of Cybersecurity and Communications will hold an event Aug. 16 in Arlington, Va., for “large and small companies interested in cybersecurity contracting and subcontracting opportunities” as well as “other organizations or stakeholders CS&C collaborates/partners with to accomplish its mission.”

The event will touch on updates to DHS’ cyber mission, existing and upcoming procurements and initiatives and top cybersecurity priorities. It will also serve as an opportunity for DHS officials to canvass the private sector to “obtain a better understanding of recent industry developments” in the cybersecurity space.

The event will include speakers from DHS, including Chief Procurement Officer Soraya Correa, and include breakout sessions focused on six topics: election security, cloud migration, the evolution of federal website security, updates on the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program, automation and technical roadmaps.

The announcement comes just days after the federal agency held a cybersecurity summit in New York where officials unveiled a new National Risk Management Center designed to be a central hub to collaborate with private industry and critical infrastructure sectors. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the new center will “provide a single point of access to the full range of government activities to defend against cyberthreats.”

It also falls in line with an overall strategy stressed by DHS over the past year that neither the federal government nor private companies can effectively repel cyber attacks from criminal groups and nation states alone. Because much of U.S. critical and technical infrastructure is privately owned, DHS’ “collective defense” model -- first mentioned in April -- envisions federal agencies working side by side with companies to share threat information, coordinate on defensive measures, cooperate on criminal investigations and spell out a more formal process for interaction between the federal government and private sector on overlapping cybersecurity priorities.

Incidents like the 2017 WannaCry and NotPetya attacks have been widely attributed to hacking groups tied to North Korea and Russia, designed to harm countries writ large by targeting the largely private-owned hospital and electricity sectors in Britain and Ukraine.

Similar efforts have been identified to penetrate and access parts of the U.S. electric grid. Just days after DHS announced the opening of the risk management center, cybersecurity firm Dragos said it had discovered a new Advanced Persistent Threat group, dubbed RASPITE, targeting critical infrastructure entities in the Middle East, Europe and Asia and the United States.

The APT group, also identified by Symantec recently under the name LeafMiner, went after electric utility companies in the United States, though Dragos says the group does not appear to have successfully compromised any organizations at present time.

“Although focused on ICS-operating entities, RASPITE has not demonstrated an ICS-specific capability to date,” the company said. “This means that the activity group is targeting electric utilities, but there is no current indication the group has the capability of destructive ICS attacks including widespread blackouts like those in Ukraine.”

Parties interested in attending DHS’ industry day must register by Aug. 15.