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Nielsen calls for greater public-private collaboration on cyber threats
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Tuesday urged private companies to do more to help the federal government identify new cyber threats, saying the administration is unable to do it alone.
"We need you to focus again on the future of cybersecurity," the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chief said. "And I'll keep coming back to that because that's what keeps me up at night is that the rate at which threats and risks are emerging is outpacing our ability to identify, assess and address them."
"So that's where we need our great minds to really help us spot the patterns and know what's coming at us," she added.
Nielsen, who was delivering a keynote at DHS's "Science and Technology Directorate's Cybersecurity and Innovation Showcase," also pointed to the ever-increasing number of devices that will be connected to the internet in the coming years.
She said there are about 20 billion devices attached to the internet, but that number is expected to hit 75 billion by 2025. And with more products connected to networks and to each other, it opens the door for more and new kinds of cyberattacks.
"So it's not a matter of if an attack happens or when, but it's how long can we withstand it and how can we innovate while we are under attack," Nielsen said.
The DHS secretary made similar comments during her annual "State of Homeland Security" address on Monday, during which she said the U.S. is not prepared to prevent cyberattacks from foreign hackers.
On Tuesday, Nielsen reiterated the need to have partnerships between private companies who are dealing with new cyberattacks and DHS to figure out "what's coming up on the horizon."
"We're focused on today's threats, we're coming down on yesterday's threats, but we want to make sure we can rise and stand and know what's coming at us," she said. "And that's what we ask you to help us do."