Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews Addresses Cybersecurity Across North America Summit


Monday, September 26, 2016

Today, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews addressed U.S., Canadian and Mexican officials gathered at the Cybersecurity Across North America Summit, hosted by the New America Foundation. He highlighted the revolutionary new technologies that are powering a digital economy across all three countries. Still, the Deputy Secretary warned that these technologies come with increased threats from cybercriminals, terrorists, and foreign governments that can devastate businesses and put government systems at risk.

Deputy Secretary Andrews discussed the important role the U.S. Department of Commerce plays in fostering cooperation between private industry and government on cybersecurity. The Department’s bureaus advise the President on Internet policy, worked with business leaders to develop the Cybersecurity Framework, and launched the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education to increase training for Americans in cybersecurity skills.

Deputy Secretary Andrews concluded by reiterating the importance of international collaboration in cybersecurity and shared his hope that the discussion at the Summit would facilitate an ongoing dialogue on this issue with government and private sector leaders across North America.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good Morning everyone, and thank you Ross for that kind introduction. It’s a pleasure to be here today at the New America Foundation.

This organization is known for bringing fresh perspectives to important policy issues, including on cybersecurity. I want to thank New America for hosting today’s event.

I also want to welcome our guests who traveled quite a distance to take part in this discussion. We are fortunate to be joined by government officials as well as business leaders from both Canada and Mexico.

As many of you know, today’s summit grew out of the North American Leaders' Summit held this past June. President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Trudeau recognized the importance of addressing cybersecurity collectively. Fundamentally, we are all here today with a simple goal: to start a dialogue between our three governments and our business communities on our cybersecurity threats, practices and priorities. 

From social media to cloud computing, the digital economy is no longer an abstract concept. In the United States, in Canada, and in Mexico, it is an everyday reality.

As we speak, companies are developing revolutionary new technologies in areas like autonomous vehicles and digital manufacturing.  And globally, more and more of our trade relationships are being defined by the data we share across borders. In our increasingly interconnected economy, a start-up in Silicon Valley may hire a team of programmers in Toronto to serve a manufacturing client in Mexico. As digital commerce goes global, the opportunities for innovation, collaboration, and economic growth are virtually limitless.

As we read in newspapers every day, with new technologies come new opportunities for cybercriminals, terrorists, and foreign governments who exploit weaknesses in our digital infrastructure. In the private sector, cyber-attacks can devastate businesses by leaking sensitive customer information, stealing intellectual property, or devastating equipment with malicious software. As governments, we too face unique challenges in defending our nations from constantly-evolving cyber threats.

In the United States, the vast majority of our critical infrastructure, from our power grids to our telecommunications networks, is owned by private industry.

That is why we at the Department of Commerce believe that securing the digital economy demands close and constant cooperation between industry and government.

Our Department has a unique role to play in fostering this critical collaboration.

We not only serve as the voice of business in the U.S. federal government – we are also the government’s digital economy agency. Our National Telecommunications and Information Administration advises the President on far-reaching Internet policy issues, from privacy protection to global Internet freedom. And at the National Institute for Standards and Technology, or NIST, our experts work with industry to improve our cybersecurity posture. For example:

  • We worked with business leaders to develop the Cybersecurity Framework – a common language for managing cyber risk that is increasingly being used around the world.
  • We created the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, which works to solve technical challenges, from securing network-enabled medical devices to better protecting financial sector data.
  • And we established the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, which focuses on training more Americans in cybersecurity skills.

We know that by working hard together, businesses and governments can help prevent devastating cyber-attacks from undermining our economies. Yet we must also look beyond our own borders to strengthen our cybersecurity. In today’s digital economy, international cooperation belongs online as well as offline. We must work together to overcome the unique threats of the digital age. And that is what brings us here today. For months, representatives from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, and State have spoken with their government counterparts from Mexico and Canada about how to improve cooperation with industry around cybersecurity. Very early on, we agreed that this discussion had to engage the business communities across our continent – not just the policy experts in our governments. 

In the 21st century global economy, cybersecurity threats know no borders. Hackers, hostile governments, and criminal rings are constantly changing their tactics and looking for ways to inflict new harms on businesses, our economies, and our people. That's why the Cybersecurity Framework – developed by industry and government together to transcend borders and harness innovation – is such an important resource to make progress trilaterally. Today’s event gives us an opportunity to have an open and candid conversation about common threats and common challenges. But I urge you not to think of this event as a one-off occasion. It must be viewed as the start of a new and ongoing dialogue on one of the greatest security challenges of our time.

I thank you all for being here today and look forward to hearing about the takeaways from this event. This is an important conversation – one that we must keep going beyond today and well into the future. Thank you.

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Last updated: 2016-09-26 11:43

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