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DCISE Delivers at TECHEX, Cyber Minds Get MAD


ARLINGTON, Va. (March 13, 2019) Samantha Treadway, from the DoD-Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Collaborative Information Sharing Environment (DCISE) team, reviews a check-in sheet for attendees of the March 2019 Technical Exchange at Boeing Regional Headquarters. The Technical Exchange is a semiannual event hosted by DCISE and serves to share the latest information regarding understanding and countering cybersecurity threats to the DIB.(Photo by Stephen Murphy)

By Stephen Murphy, DC3 Public Affairs

The DoD Cyber Crime Center (DC3) DoD-Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Collaborative Information Sharing Environment (DCISE) hosted their March 2019 Technical Exchange (TECHEX) at Boeing Regional Headquarters in Arlington, Va., March 13-14.

More than 200 cybersecurity professionals from the DoD and DIB gathered to share the latest information regarding understanding and countering cybersecurity threats to the DIB.

“The one-person IT shop from a small company might not get many chances to share experiences with a cyber-threat analyst from a large company, but at TECHEX, they sit side-by-side and learn from each other,” said Terry Kalka, DCISE chief, Mission Support Division.  “Our program succeeds to the extent that we foster open communication and information sharing between the DIB and government, and among our DIB partners.  We provide actionable cyber threat intelligence that many of our attendees do not get anywhere else.”

As part of its mission and voluntary partnerships, DCISE assists more than 600 DIB companies to understand the risks from nation-state threats and aids them in advancing their cybersecurity to better protect unclassified DoD information residing on or transiting their corporate networks. 

This year’s TECHEX featured 34 presentations grouped into four categories — Tools, Best Practices, Threats and Partner Fundamentals — all under the umbrella of the event theme, “March MADness: Meaningful Analytical Dialogue.”

To breakdown the meaning of the MAD acronym, Kalka stated, “In DCISE, when we say ‘meaningful,’ we mean: ‘Is it timely; is it actionable?’  DCISE products and services were developed and continue to evolve toward the goal of providing timely and actionable cyber threat information to our DIB and [US Government] partners.”

Kalka noted that “Analytical” was part of the theme since analysis is the core service provided by DCISE.

“The DIB CS Program is built on cyber threat analysis, and it is this analysis that allows our partners to make risk-informed, rather than purely compliance-driven, cybersecurity decisions,” said Kalka.

“Dialogue” was incorporated into the theme to reflect the challenges that DIB companies encounter are insurmountable for any single organization (and is representative of the “Collaboration” in the organization’s name).

“Dialogue begins a creative feedback loop that is not possible with a one-way information stream,” said Kalka.  “Within the DIB CS program, we have agreed to participate in a dialogue about the activity we see across the partnership, threats that target our data, and how to make things better and safer across the DIB.” 

The event included presentations from DIB partners, Federally-Funded Research and Development Centers, private companies from outside the DIB partnership, a law enforcement organization, and DC3s Cyber Forensics Laboratory and Vulnerability Disclosure Program.

Some presentations covered the use of open source and commercial cybersecurity tools, while others highlighted risk assessments, insider threat programs and mitigating social engineering attacks.  There were also briefings that focused on cyber threats at both the classified and unclassified levels.  For those who are new to the DIB CS Program, TECHEX also showcased a series of “Partner Fundamentals” presentations.

“For many of our new partners, this is their first chance to dive deeply into cyber threat intelligence,” said Kalka.  “It also puts them in a position to take advantage of everything the DIB CS Program has to offer.”

In 2019, TECHEX entered its 11th year and has come a long way since its inception.  The first TECHEX included about 15 attendees and took place in a conference room at DC3 in Linthicum, Md.

“The agenda at the early events focused heavily on DCISE offerings and partner feedback to improve them,” said Kalka.  “Those exchanges are still part of TECHEX, but over the years, we opened the aperture to provide a wider range of cyber threat and cyber defense information to our partners.  In the last few years, we’ve been able to use attendee feedback to help shape upcoming events.  The number of ‘Very Good/Excellent’ ratings on our surveys has grown each time.”

Kalka noted that feedback from attendee surveys at the recent event reflects the continuing and growing success for DCISE and TECHEX.

“We have several comments on how much people learned even though they’ve been in the cybersecurity business for 10 or more years,” said Kalka.  “Many commented on the wide variety of topics presented [and how it gave] them an appreciation for the threat landscape beyond their specific company.  We provided actionable information on specific threat actors and their tactics, techniques and procedures.”

For those who have never been to, or not sure if TECHEX is for them, Kalka said TECHEX has something beneficial for all who work in the DoD or DIB cybersecurity communities.

TECHEX takes place twice a year; usually once in early spring, and then again in early fall.  The next TECHEX is slated for September.  The location will remain in the National Capital Region, and the specific location will be determined in the next few months.

“If you’re in cybersecurity, you have no shortage of conferences, symposia, and networking events to attend,” Kalka said.  TECHEX is the only event at our scale and scope that focuses solely on cybersecurity within the Defense Industrial Base.  Our attendees frequently rave about the quality and variety of our presentations.  They confirm that we provide critical information that they don’t get anywhere else.  Finally, this is truly a collaborative event. One of our survey respondents put it very well: ‘We all have common goals, and want to help each other.’”

For more information about DCISE, visit https://www.dc3.mil/cyber-security.