George C. Barnes, deputy director at the National Security Agency (NSA), expressed reserved confidence in the American private sector to maintain a steady technological lead against foreign adversaries at the Cybersecurity Summit hosted by Billington Cybersecurity on September 7.


“I can’t remember a time that anybody I knew wanted to go to China or Russia to buy technology, but they’re coming looking at ours. If they can’t buy it, they try to acquire it,” said Barnes.


“The US and our democratic allies enjoy things that cannot be replicated easily in other autocratic societies. And so that’s the key to today’s innovation. And so, innovation sparks creativity and solutions. And that puts us ahead and it’s not just on our technologies, but instead, on processes, the way we handle problems,” said Barnes.


Alongside this confidence, Barnes warned against some of the problems the NSA and many private industry partners confront today that need ongoing work.


One of these issues, Barnes expressed, was the recruitment of talented individuals who study in the fields required has been diminishing lately.


“We have a dearth of talent in the US. We are falling behind in graduating people with technical degrees. We have big challenges, and it is going to take all of us to come together and confront those challenges,” said Barnes


“We need to be transparent with ourselves where we have problems, where we need to tighten ourselves up, how we need to make an offering to people who are coming out into the industry and having choices and so we must be fast, but we also have to be diligent,” said Barnes.


Barnes also noted maintaining a healthy level of paranoia is good to push private and industry partners to prepare themselves for any cybersecurity issues that may arise going into the future and the mid-term elections that are slated in the coming months.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.