Free cybersecurity conference to feature FBI director, other global experts on preventing, responding to attacks

Event marks launch of Cleveland-area public-private consortium to increase information sharing about threats, incidents and overall best practices

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey will be among the speakers Wednesday, Oct. 14, when Northeast Ohio organizations host the region’s inaugural CyberSecurity Conference.

The free event, which also features Chris Inglis, former deputy director of the National Security Administration, marks the official launch of a public-private partnership designed to enhance the region’s capacity for preventing and responding to cyber attacks.

Two of Northeast Ohio’s most important assets are the intellectual property that is developed here and the cooperative spirit that separates this region’s DNA from others, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and one of the conference organizers. ”This conference and the consortium that is being announced tap into these collective strengths to safeguard our area’s future.”

In addition to national speakers, the one-day conference at the Cleveland Convention Center also includes an overview of the new partnership as well as a presentation regarding cyber preparations for the Republic National Convention. Attendees also will participate in a simulation of a cyber attack on key Cleveland entities.

“This partnership has immense potential to advance Northeast Ohio,” said Ronn Richard, president and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation and one of the conference panelists. “Not only will it strengthen our collective ability to combat cyber crime, but it also will connect industry, government and education in ways that encourage innovation and economic development.”

Over the past several months, Dettelbach’s office has been working closely with Case Western Reserve, Cleveland Clinic, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland to explore ways to increase Northeast Ohio’s expertise in this realm. Over time the four original groups engaged major organizations across the area, and also researched successful efforts elsewhere. One of the most well-known of these initiatives is Boston’s Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC).

Begun in 2007, that center now includes more than 30 members representing fields from government and financial services to health care and higher education. Members of the nonprofit consortium have access to a threat information-sharing portal, an email list server, a structured information database platform, and other secured means of online engagement. In addition, those directly responsible for threat protection in their organizations meet every other week, while senior leaders meet every other month.

MITRE, a national nonprofit that runs research and development initiatives for the federal government, played a pivotal role in the development of Boston’s initiative. Cleveland leaders consulted extensively with MITRE when they first began discussing the issue, and later visited Boston to learn more about it and the ACSC. MITRE is continuing to assist with Northeast Ohio’s initiative, and will have representatives at the conference.

In addition to Dettlebach, the event’s opening speakers include Stephen D. Anthony, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Cleveland division; Toby Cosgrove, CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic; and Barbara R. Snyder, president of Case Western Reserve.

James Penrose, chief technology officer of the global cyber security firm Darktrace, will explain some of the benefits of public-private partnerships, while representatives of the FBI, Federal Reserve Bank and U.S. Secret Service will detail government’s efforts to combat cyber attacks. The conference also will cover specific industry trends in banking, education, energy and health care.

Ultimately the consortium could expand its work to encourage regional research and job training initiatives, as Boston’s center has done. As higher education entities increasingly interact with other consortium members, universities will gain a deeper understanding of immediate and longer-term needs in terms of staffing and potential countermeasures.

For more information about the consortium and to register, visit