RSA 2015: DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson says agency will open Silicon Valley office

In an effort to further strengthen its cybersecurity posture and glean top cyber tech talent, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is finalizing plans to open a Silicon Valley office, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told an audience at the RSA Conference in San Francisco Tuesday.

The department, which will continue to train resources on both its original counterterrorism initiatives and cybersecurity, would like to foster a closer relationship between the private and public sectors, and draw from Silicon Valley's considerable talent pool, a goal that Phyllis Schneck, deputy under secretary for cybersecurity for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), expressed in an interview with SCMagazine last fall. To that end, Johnson urged attendees to “consider doing a tour of service for your country.”

He also noted that in he was actively trying to find a “recognized all star in cybersecurity” to head the National Cybersecurity and Communications Center (NCICC) formed in 2009 and who would report directly to him.

Johnson, who touched on a series of Executive Orders penned by President Obama to build a resilient and proactive cybersecurity, pledged to “root out any turf battles” among agencies that might interfere with that progress.

The DHS chief wrapped his brief keynote with what has become a familiar government saw that encryption, while a boon to privacy, will present considerable challenges to law enforcement. Calling homeland security “a balancing act” between security and privacy, Johnson called for attendees to help come up with solutions that would help protect the country against cyber threats but still protect the freedoms and rights of citizens.

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