Pittsburgh Technical Council

Cyburgh: Urban ISAC for the Pittsburgh Region

Cyburgh: Urban ISAC for the Pittsburgh Region

Article Published: May 17, 2017


Pittsburgh: A Cybersecurity Center of Excellence

In February 2016, the Cyburgh, PA initiative was launched to recognize and promote Pittsburgh as an international cybersecurity center of excellence. Since that time we have hosted events focused on cybersecurity in healthcare, the automotive supply chain, the law and workforce development.

Pittsburgh was the birthplace of cybersecurity, with the establishment of Carnegie Mellon University’s CERT Division of the Software Engineering Institute in 1988. Pittsburgh’s cyber landscape continues to evolve and expand. For example, Ford recently announced that it is investing $1 billion into a local artificial intelligence company. And in February 2017, the University of Pittsburgh launched the Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security. So Pittsburgh is not only the starting place for cybersecurity, it continues to raise the bar in this thriving and dynamic field.

While not belonging to a single sector, organizations in the Pittsburgh region share cybersecurity-related goals, threats, risks and needs. These shared interests were made clear in 2014, when five Chinese nationals were indicted for economic espionage after hacking Pittsburgh companies for trade secrets. The Pittsburgh region has entered a new renaissance with the emergence of technology-focused and technology-dependent organizations. Some new names have created buzz and opportunity, including Google, Uber, Diamond Kinetics, ForAllSecure, IAM Robotics and Qrono. Meanwhile long-established Pittsburgh companies such as UPMC, Highmark, Alcoa and U.S. Steel have evolved their operations and now heavily depend on technology and cybersecurity.

The Role of ISACs

Almost two decades ago, critical infrastructure organizations began forming Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) by sector (e.g., financial, energy). According to the National Council of ISACs, “ISACs are trusted entities established by critical infrastructure owners and operators to foster information sharing and best practices about physical and cyber threats and mitigation. Typically nonprofit organizations, ISACs reach deep into their sectors, communicating critical information far and wide and maintaining sector-wide situational awareness.” 

An Urban-ISAC in Pittsburgh

One fundamental goal of the Cyburgh, PA initiative is to bring together the academic, government and private sector communities to deliberately advance Pittsburgh as an internationally recognized leader in cybersecurity. Another goal is to provide Pittsburgh organizations with solutions to cybersecurity challenges across people, process and technology. Leveraging the almost 20 years of lessons learned and best practices from ISACs, the Cyburgh, PA event on May 10, 2017 was a first step to establish an Urban-ISAC for the Pittsburgh region. Such an ISAC will establish a means for sharing information about cybersecurity-related concerns common to all organizations. 

Being a member of an ISAC has many benefits, including: 

•enabling trusted and timely communication and coordination among members 

•encouraging interaction with peers to share information about threats, incidents, vulnerabilities and effective detection and response practices

•providing opportunities to participate in and contribute to workshops, symposiums, exercises and other events

An Urban-ISAC will provide the Pittsburgh region with a structured way to share information and create a culture of cybersecurity that spans sectors and companies. Members of the Urban-ISAC can collaborate to not only identify and share real-time threat and vulnerability information, but also identify best practices for preventing and responding to attacks. 

 ISACs also provide opportunities for organizations to expand beyond information sharing cybersecurity protection and defense. Our Urban-ISAC will share information to influence public policy, education, workforce development and the overall growth of the Pittsburgh region. Such coordinated influence is a unique and exciting benefit of an Urban-ISAC that not only protects a sector, but influences the overall success of the entire metropolitan region. 

Help Shape Pittsburgh’s Urban-ISAC at Cyburgh, PA

At upcoming Cyburgh, PA events we will add formal ISAC-style meetings to share information and coordinate activities that underpin our success. When an ISAC is formed, founding members establish common objectives, so by getting involved now, you can shape the Urban-ISAC into a group that best meets the needs of the Pittsburgh region.

As Pittsburgh organizations, we know that we share in the prosperity and progress of the Pittsburgh region. Cyburgh, PA will expand the Urban-ISAC to deliberately address:

•policies and laws that strengthen opportunities for technology and technology-dependent companies in our region

•gaps in educational curricula at local educational institutions to better prepare our future workforce

•initiatives to attract and retain cybersecurity talent to our region

• transition of cutting-edge capabilities from academic institutions to organizations that can implement them

• positioning the Pittsburgh region as a leader in cybersecurity to attract investments and compete with other U.S. cities

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