PELP Fall Speaker Series Addresses the Future of Cybersecurity

It’s not easy to anticipate which cybersecurity challenges we will encounter in the future. If it were easy, we would already have knowledge about the ways in which cybercriminals will take advantage of potential vulnerabilities. However, in the war against cybercrime, our battlefield is constantly changing and evolving. As technology grows at an exponential rate, it is difficult enough to visualize where the battles will be fought; much less envision how we will succeed in thwarting future cybersecurity threats.

The next Pacific Executive Leaders Program (PELP) Speaker Series offered by the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) will attempt to decipher some of the unknown challenges that lie ahead for our cyber-based infrastructure. PELP’s Speaker Series is an excellent opportunity to bring together participants who may otherwise be scattered across the various Pacific islands. “We bring together industry with emergency managers to have a collaborative dialogue,” summarized David Fukutomi, Deputy Associate Director of NPS-CHDS Executive Education Programs.

David Kaufman, Vice President and Director of Safety and Security at CNA

Leading the way through this facilitated workshop is Executive Leaders Program (ELP) alumnus, David Kaufman (ELP0601). Kaufman is the Vice President and Director of Safety and Security at CNA—where they are developing a project to help decision-makers in government, industry, and civil society reduce frictions, identify opportunities for cooperation, and better prepare for the future of cybersecurity. Kaufman has also served as a thesis advisor for CHDS master’s students. The project is called “Cybersecurity Futures 2025” and represents a partnership between UC Berkeley’s Center for Long-term Cybersecurity (CLTC), CNA’s Institute for Public Research (CNA), and the World Economic Forum’s Global Centre for Cybersecurity (C4C). By employing a long-term framework, the project examines cybersecurity challenges we may face in the distant future. Through a series of cybersecurity scenarios, this report helps decision-makers anticipate how cybersecurity challenges will evolve and understand how peers in different parts of the world think about those challenges.

“There are many excellent discussions, projects, and presentations about the current environment of cybersecurity, but there are not many that focus on the future effects,” said Fukutomi. The future-looking scenarios tell logical stories about how forces of change from a variety of sources—including technology, economics, human behavior, corporate strategy, government policy, natural phenomena, and social and ethical dimensions—could overlap and combine to create a cybersecurity landscape in 2025 that is meaningfully different from what we face today. These future challenges involve a broader set of actors, have higher stakes, reside on different technological platforms, and appeal to human values in unique ways. The scenarios are not literal predictions, but elements from each of these scenarios are likely to be a part of the future cybersecurity landscape. The forward-looking project correlates well with the PELP program because the unique geography of the Pacific often requires alternative processes or approaches. “In the Pacific, many people are culturally accustomed to living in the moment. But operationally, they have to think ahead even more than on the mainland. This is due to the sheer distance and lack of resources. So, in order to prepare for disasters here, you need to look even further ahead,” Fukutomi reiterated.

In addition to thought-provoking interactive scenarios, Kaufman will introduce four short videos depicting the various Cybersecurity Futures 2025 scenarios. This will allow PELP participants to virtually experience these possible futures and interact with some of the key ideas and insights. The ultimate goal is to translate the results of the scenarios and apply the outcomes within each participant’s organization. PELP students will be empowered with a customized framework that addresses their specific organizational priorities that enable them to think more broadly about how emerging trends could affect cybersecurity operations in the future. The CNA Institute for Public Research also provides access to these scenario-based videos on their website. An introductory video featuring Walter Parkes, renowned pioneer of technology-based movies, precludes the scenarios and explains how to use them. Parkes has worked as a producer and screenwriter for WarGames, Sneakers, Minority Report, and other popular movies in the burgeoning tech-thriller genre.

As the next Speaker Series presenter, Kaufman embodies the type of insightful presenters that PELP brings in. “The workshops help expose how attitudes and perspectives are developing and diverging across geographies,” said Fukutomi. Kaufman also introduced the Cybersecurity Futures 2025 project to CHDS students at the Cyber Curriculum Forum in May. The overarching goal of that forum was to integrate knowledge of trending cyber threats into course curriculum. The Cyber Curriculum Forum was hosted by the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) in Arlington, VA. Some of the other topics included “Threat Environment and National Policy” by Tom Bossert (National Security Analyst for ABC News), and “Legal Considerations” by Paul Rosenzweig (Founder of Red Branch Consulting). It’s important to have these types of discussions because the topics could eventually become the foundation that enables CHDS to engage and inform the Nation’s homeland security leaders on cyber-related issues.

The PELP Speaker Series usually rotates between a spring session and a fall session. Over the past 5 years, the fall session has generated a lot of interest in the program because it generally coincides with the program application period. Some of the past PELP Speaker Series events have included CHDS master’s graduates Jason Lim on the topic of North Korea’s historical threats (from the unique perspective of North Korea) and David Gomez on the vulnerability of populations affected by rising sea levels in the future. Fukutomi shared, “Under the PELP umbrella, we’ve focused on topics specific to FEMA Region IX. For example, the recovery of impacted shipping ports after a disaster is crucial for emergency operations in the Pacific.”

By understanding different perspectives and approaches that governments, agencies, and societies around the world have about emerging cyber challenges, we can help each other better prepare for a rapidly changing technology security environment.