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Opportunities from Biden's billion-dollar bid to up federal cybersecurity

The Biden administration placed a high priority on cybersecurity technology investments as the U.S. grapples with security and ransomware attacks impacting the nation's critical assets.

That push, experts say, means more opportunities for private sector contractors to provide government agencies with security solutions ranging from cloud computing to zero trust, a cybersecurity framework designed to prevent bad actors from accessing networks.

The American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council is hosting a virtual conference to discuss security options for the federal IT space. The council's Emerging Technology and Innovation conference, which is expected to garner hundreds of attendees, will feature speakers from the U.S. Defense Department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as well as private sector government contractors including International Business Machines Corp., Leidos Holdings Inc. and The MITRE Corp.

David Wennergren, CEO of the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council, said the event is not designed to be a sales pitch for the companies but rather an opportunity to share thought leadership and develop relationships with government officials.

"We see a lot of enthusiasm in the government about the adoption of things like robotics process automation, intelligent automation, ways to take routinized tasks and have bots do them for you so the finite number of government employees can focus more on the mission work," Wennergren said.

The event is being held amid an increased push to ramp up the U.S. government's cybersecurity posture following two high-profile security events: most recently, the ransomware attack that led to the temporary shutdown of Colonial Pipeline's fuel system and the major breach of network software firm SolarWinds Corp.'s system. The U.S. also faces cybersecurity threats related to the continued shortage of chips needed to power the country's weapons systems.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden allocated $1 billion to the Technology Modernization Fund as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

And May 12, Biden signed an executive order to improve the country's cybersecurity defenses and create new standards to evaluate software security.

Strong partnerships with the private sector will be critical to making an impact sooner than later, said Nazak Nikakhtar, co-chair of the national security practice at Wiley Rein LLP. While government is good at policy, cutting technology is not its forte, Nikakhtar said.

"It's really difficult for government officials who are not in labs working on emerging technologies every day," Nikakhtar said.

Therefore, the government must partner with outside private vendors to not only identify the most critical emerging technologies but also conduct audits to ensure the solutions are immune to vulnerabilities, Nikakhtar added.

Third-party vendors should also compete with each other for audit contracts annually, Nikakhtar said. "That way, you can make sure that the system has been reviewed by different people who are in a competitive landscape against one another," Nikakhtar said. "It forces people to up their game."

Government

May 24 The House Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets will hold a virtual hearing at noon ET titled "Going Public: SPACs, Direct Listings, Public Offerings, and the Need for Investor Protections."
May 26 The House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a virtual hearing at 11 a.m. titled "A Shot at Normalcy: Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence."
May 26

The Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing at 2 p.m. to review President Biden's fiscal year 2022 funding request for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Industry, legal and think tank events
May 25

The FCBA will host a webinar at 12 p.m. called "Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Committee & Cybersecurity Committee" that will focus on the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration's updated cybersecurity best practices for the safety of modern vehicles.

May 25 The Information will host a Zoom webinar at 11 a.m. titled "The New Face of Gaming: Building an Inclusive Online Community."
May 25-26 The American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council will host its emerging technology and innovation conference.
May 26-27 APCO International will host its virtual Nexus NG9-1-1 Experience Reimagined event.
May 26 Symend will host a webinar at 10 a.m. titled "Engage through Change: Emergency Broadband Benefit," providing an overview of the Federal Communications Commission's EBB program.

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