Advisory Committee expresses Quantum, legacy system concerns

The National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) brought together Silicon Valley executives with federal officials at the advisory committee’s annual meeting on Wednesday.
The National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) brought together Silicon Valley executives with federal officials at the advisory committee’s annual meeting on Wednesday.

The National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) brought together Silicon Valley executives with federal officials at the advisory committee's annual meeting on Wednesday in Santa Clara, California.

U.S. military and intelligence officials, including Department of Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, attended the advisory committee.

“Today's era relies on technological innovation in our field such as speed and agility,” said Defense Secretary Carter at the meeting. During his presentation, he introduced Raj Shah, CEO/co-founder of Morta Security, Air Force Reservist, and former F-16 pilot, to lead the Defense Department's Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUX) initiative. The DoD is restructuring the DIUX program, a Silicon Valley outreach initiative, with Carter calling the revised program “DIUX 2.0.” Shah's security firm, Morta Security, was acquired by Palo Alto Networks in March 2014.

Last month, President Obama announced plans to nominate Intel Security Group general manager Christopher Young to the committee.

The security implications of Quantum computers were discussed during two separate panels during the advisory committee meeting.

Marc Andreessen, co-founder and general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, said he is “optimistic” that Quantum capabilities could be achieved within ten years. “There are very big consequences for cryptography when it comes to Quantum, but there are also solutions,” Andreessen said.

Matthew Scholl, chief of the computer security division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, said he is “extremely concerned” with the security implication of Quantum computers. Reacting to Andreessen's estimation that the technology could be available within ten years, Scholl said, “If it's ten years out, we're late.”

Dr. Andy Ozment, assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications at DHS, said he is certain Silicon Valley will work with the government to create world-changing technologies. “I worry more about how the government will bring them on board. We know we have legacy systems that are an albatross around our neck, but really critical systems rely on them, and so we can't just turn them off.”

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