In-The-News: CGA's Nate Snyder Named as Next-Gen Latino Leader in National Security

This article original appeared on the New America blog, September 16, 2019.

Current events have signaled that the American people want a government that reflects the diversity of our nation and leadership at the national level that brings together different perspectives to address America’s emerging national security and foreign policy challenges.

The Latino community is abundant with leadership in defense, diplomacy, and international development, and an excellent resource in addressing such challenges. From the Revolution to today, Latinos have helped build this country. Latinos have served in uniform from the Navy’s first Admiral David Farragut to the Congressional Gold Medal Borinqueneers; to the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson and current Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez; to Jose Garzon, professor and a 30-year veteran of the USAID Foreign Service and international activists like Chef Jose Andrés, who formed World Central Kitchen to feed families and individuals touched by disasters. Their contributions highlight that there has been no shortage of important contributions from this talent-rich and diverse community.

The Diversity in National Security Network and the New America Foundation take great pleasure in recognizing the caliber of talent available within the Latino community and elevating the next generation of voices in the national security conversation. We are pleased to honor the contributions of 30 Latino rising-star professionals in U.S. national security and foreign policy. The list features experts currently serving in government, think tanks, academia, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and the media. Selection is based on career excellence and leadership, current work in national security or foreign policy, contributions to their issues of expertise through thought leadership, and demonstrated service to their communities.

This list is part of a series highlighting the need for diverse voices in national security and foreign policy. We encourage you to read "Bringing More Diversity to the National Security Arena" and the previous lists in this series for Black American and Asian American and Pacific Islander National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders and after you learn about this year's Latino National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders.

Nate Snyder
National Security Advisor and Former Obama DHS Counterterrorism Official

Nate Snyder is a current Senior Advisor for Cambridge Global Advisors, LLC, a national security consulting and strategic communications firm. Most recently, Nate contributed to CBS This Morning, Meet the Press Daily, MSNBC Live, and CNN Tonight to provide counterterrorism analysis in the wake of the El Paso terrorist attack. Other contributions include his analysis on the 5G network national security threats posed by Huawei with Hill TV. Previously, Nate served as an Obama Administration DHS counterterrorism official and advisor to DOJ, FBI, NCTC, and the White House. Before joining the Obama Administration, Nate held numerous senior positions with the 2007-2008 Obama Presidential Campaign. Nate is a graduate of the White House National Security Leadership Workshop and board member of the Obama Latino Appointee Alumni Association, LATINOS44. He is a graduate of Syracuse University and has a master’s degree from the U.S. Naval War College in national security and counterterrorism. Learn more about him hereLinkedIn, and on Twitter.

Expertise: Counterterrorism and Cybersecurity

Commentary: Homeland Security makes the right moves to bolster our cybersecurity

By: Francis Taylor

This piece originally appeared in The Hill, August 2, 2019

If there is one thing that was learned from the 2016 presidential election, it is that protecting our election infrastructure cannot be only a passive decision. There is a need to be proactively assessing our environment to ensure that we are implementing the cybersecurity features that fortify our systems and, ultimately, our American democracy. This is where the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency comes into full play.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency was inaugurated in 2018 as a component within the Department of Homeland Security. Its primary objectives are to lead cybersecurity efforts across the federal government and to work with the critical infrastructure community to help protect their networks. But it was not conceptualized solely on the basis of Russian interference. The evolving concerns that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency plans to prioritize as it is now entering its second year include supply chain, 5G networks, and election security.

Standing up the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency last fall, an effort that was started by the Obama administration but realized by President Trump, has signaled cybersecurity as a priority deserving of greater resources. Top Department of Homeland Security officials had been championing the decision, advocating that the creation of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency was necessary for streamlining its goals. It is able to act more independently, like how the Federal Emergency Management Agency operates, so barriers to decision making are eliminated, and responses are more efficient and successful.

Under the leadership of Chris Krebs, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has initiated a solid roadmap outlining how it will fully mature its capabilities over the next two years. While it may appear to be acting similarly to an intelligence agency through its information sharing efforts, there is a major distinction in that it will operate transparently. This is a huge win for all its civilian, private sector, and government partners navigating the complex cybersecurity landscape.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency understands that a majority of our cybersecurity infrastructure resides in the private sector and is committed to taking actions to counter threats that extend beyond government systems. This means it will work closely with cybersecurity infrastructure entities to understand what they themselves perceive to be the greatest risks to their systems. This not only improves the efficacy of solutions, but it helps achieve buy in, which greatly strengthens efforts.

Still, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency exhibits both form and function. There are new emerging cyberthreats that are rapidly changing and advancing, including the durability of the supply chain. Cybercriminals and foreign adversaries have demonstrated the ability to exploit vulnerabilities in the supply chain, gaining access to sensitive data. These perpetrators are acting strategically to disrupt our systems, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is expected to exercise collective defense to manage these risks and share actionable intelligence with important network defenders positioned to act on it.

One resource that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency now relies on is its Information and Communication Technologies Supply Chain Risk Management Task Force that is comprised of federal partners and dozens of the largest companies in the information technology and communications sectors. Its participants are crafting strong proposals to manage several weaknesses in the international technology supply chain.

It comes as no surprise that another focal point is 5G. However, with the advantages of 5G come the downsides, as there are greater opportunities for our adversaries such as China to gain access to our networks and for insecure technology to gain outsized market share. To defend against all these  new threats, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency coordinates with the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, the Federal Communications Commission, and the White House. This is necessary to determine risk mitigation strategies, such as mandating all 5G technology be interoperable, or banning some providers like Huawei.

But what about election security? Was that not the driving force in establishing the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency? It is indeed working to expand upon the relationships with state and local election officials and voting machine vendors that emerged from the 2018 midterm elections. The Department of Homeland Security now finally recognizes elections as part of our cybersecurity infrastructure, and so engagements with these partners has been paramount to understanding how they operate. Collaboration between state and local election officials and the federal government is a major factor in incentivizing the patching of election systems and helping the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency achieve its goal of 100 percent auditability by 2020.

The Department of Homeland Security is a proven government leader by launching the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to focus on emerging cyberthreats. With this leadership comes the responsibility to integrate and coordinate with the private sector to ensure secure and sustainable partnerships. Connecting these entities will inform decision making and provide pathways for innovation and intelligence sharing.

Francis Taylor served as undersecretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security and as assistant secretary for diplomatic security at the Department of State now with Cambridge Global Advisors.

Commentary: China's Lost Decade?

By: Christopher Burnham, CGA Chairman

No big news that China’s economy is the slowest it has been in decades. It had to slow, just the way Japan’s economy doubled every ten years from the ashes of World War II to become the second largest in the world, and then crashed in 1990 starting Japan’s “Lost Decade” (the Nikkei crashed more than 80%).

China’s economy has been growing much faster than that, and even if you cut their reported GDP numbers in half, which one World Bank analysis said was appropriate—see my Forbes column from last November – it is still a massively impressive resurrection from the failure of Mao’s “Great Leaps”.

Recent reports, however, portend a troubled economic future for China, which they could avoid through a trade deal with the U.S.

The three drivers of immediate concern for this potential catastrophe are the following: their massive credit expansion, African swine fever, and a Fall Armyworm infestation. Longer term items that threaten a stable China are a rapidly aging population and soon to be shrinking work force, the inability to restructure bloated and inefficient companies, an asset/real estate bubble similar to what Japan experienced, and increasing competition in manufacturing driven by robotics. The restructuring issue is an interesting one, because the Chinese Government prevents companies from downsizing their labor force. Many companies have systemic and unsustainable fixed labor costs that can’t be restructured lest the companies be criticized and punished by political authorities. 

For the immediate concerns, the International Institute of Finance’s recent Global Debt Monitor Report, and the well-articulated interview with Ariel Investment’s CIO, Rupal J. Bhansali, points out that China’s credit growth for the past ten years has ballooned from about $9 trillion to over $41 trillion. This is more than twice the debt load of the U.S. and more than four times that of Japan. 

The good news is that the Hong Kong-based data company, CEIC, estimates that there is more than $27 trillion in private deposits in China, and with a government as powerful as President Xi’s, certainly they can use the power of eminent domain to seize some of those deposits to stave off economic collapse—this is actually been relabeled by some of the Democrats running for president this year, a “wealth tax”. Perhaps that is why the real estate bubble continues to grow as it may be safer to keep money in real assets versus the local state owned bank—or the mattress, given an additional threat of inflation.

The second immediate threat is the growing spread of swine fever in China that is devastating the hog population. China loves pork, which accounts for 60% of all meat consumption in China, and they produce almost 50% of all pork in the world (compared with only 11% for the U.S.) But the Chinese government has reported that the sow herd in China has dropped over 24% and private estimates have doubled that figure.

China’s agricultural ministry has estimated that pork prices could surge as much as 70% this year. You might as well double that as well. There are 500 million Chinese poor who live on less than $5 a day, and perhaps as many as 150 million who live on less than $2 a day. Surging pork prices, and the concurrent increase in demand (and prices) for chicken, will not be good for impoverished rural China.

The third shoe to drop is the Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestation. A USDA report from May stated, “FAW has no natural predators in China and its presence may result in lower production and crop quality of corn, rice, wheat, sorghum, sugarcane, cotton, soybean and peanuts among other cash crops.”

In previous infestations, the United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization has estimated that up to half the country’s crop could get wiped out. This is more bad news for China’s poor. With protests in Hong Kong attracting as many as 2 million participants, one wonders how long it will be before 500 million “peasants”—the word used by a very senior Chinese official to me ten years ago in reference to China’ rural poor—rise up. There is an old expression in China, “In order to keep the mandate from heaven, you must fill the bowls.” Filling the rice bowls could become Xi’s number one problem this year.

As Ms. Bhansali points out in her interview, the slowdown in China has nothing to do with the tariffs, but more with the Harvard educated central bankers of China finally saying “no more credit expansion.” However, with potential food shortages in the near future, China needs to lower their retaliatory tariffs on US food products immediately. President Xi can say that this is out of a gesture of good will to restart a broader trade agreement and fudge the real reason.

Regardless, China is in deep trouble and they need a trade deal now. President Trump rightly continues to push for fair (pari passu) trade with China, something the past six U.S. administrations have failed to achieve. The Trump administration and American industry also want China to stop stealing our technology and stop their massive subsidy of state-owned enterprises which undermine reasonable competition from ALL other nations. 

For their part, China wants the U.S. to stop blocking Huawei from participating in building out the worldwide 5G network. Besides the obvious security concerns, Huawei also lacks interoperability with other providers, reminiscent of 19th Century railroad robber barons who built their tracks to different gauges to stifle competition. Keeping competitors from being able to share their tracks was and is, a classic monopolistic tactic. However, there can be no trade deal without 5G interoperability as part of it. 

China needs a trade agreement now to keep the rice bowls full and to stave off a Japan-like “lost decade.” It cannot wait until November 2020.

This piece originally appeared in Forbes on July 19, 2019.

Commentary: Protecting Europe from China will strengthen the future of NATO

This op-ed originally appeared in EURACTIVE online on June 19, 2019

By: Douglas Lute

NATO, the world’s oldest and most successful alliance, recently turned 70 years old. As a report from Harvard’s Belfer Center explains, the Alliance faces a daunting array of challenges, including some that are familiar like defence spending and Russian aggression.

Other challenges are only now emerging and will become increasingly important in coming years. Especially pressing is the growing strategic competition between the Western alliance and China, which will likely dominate the world scene for the next several decades.

Today the competition with China is mostly economic, not military, but NATO members need to pay attention. Chinese economic investments today can lead to political influence tomorrow, and also have security implications. China’s annual foreign direct investment in Europe grew to $420 billion in 2017, a fifty-fold increase over a decade.

As part of the Belt and Road Initiative, China focuses investments on transportation and communications infrastructure, vital connections to Europe’s huge market with 500 million consumers and one-fourth of global GDP.

With these huge investments, China will gain political influence within European Union governments, as we have already seen in several cases. As political divisions widen within both NATO and the EU, cohesion erodes and these key institutions will struggle to attain consensus on how to address this challenge.

The competition with China includes emerging digital technologies that have significant security implications. Artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics and biotechnology may revolutionise warfare, perhaps on the scale of the changes brought on with the development of nuclear weapons in the early years of NATO.

Most attention today centres on the competition for 5G communications networks. While Chinese-made 5G infrastructure tends to be less expensive, it introduces new vulnerabilities because of the potential for the Chinese government to gain access to the networks and the data that travels across them.

Neither economic nor security concerns are likely to completely dominate in the European market as individual Member States weigh costs, benefits and risks. As it stands, the European 5G market is poised to contain a significant amount of Chinese infrastructure.

Economic factors can be balanced with security concerns. European governments can leverage contractual, regulatory and technological tools to mitigate security risks. For example, mandating interoperability between 5G technological components would ensure that one manufacturer, such as China’s Huawei, does not dominate the market.

Without careful coordination among allies to agree on reasonable security measures,  5G competition threatens to divide NATO and the EU politically, lead to barriers to integration, and reduce the overall benefit of 5G to European consumers.

While 5G is the current hot topic, it is just the beginning of competition with China in emerging technologies. In the coming decades, even more sophisticated data-based technologies will mean that both America and the European Union face a long term, geo-strategic competition with China.

Some of these technologies will have even more direct implications for national and Alliance security than 5G, changing fundamentally how NATO deters and, if necessary, fights wars.

Now is the time for NATO — and its most important partner, the EU – to wake up to the challenge from China, while it is still primarily economic and not yet military. Together, the US and NATO allies comprise about 50% of global GDP.

The trans-Atlantic alliance is a strategic advantage for both America and Europe that China cannot match – if we act together. As the competition with China is mainly economic and political, it should be a priority topic for US-EU and NATO-EU consultations.

For example, the US should welcome recent EU initiatives to implement measures to control foreign investment, similar to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The competition for 5G in Europe is only the opening round in the strategic competition with China.

America and Europe, joined together in NATO, are stronger together.

Commentary: 5G risk is about more than simply securing competitive advantage

This op-ed originally appeared in The Hill on May 17, 2019.

By: Nate Snyder

The dawning of 5G capabilities will revolutionize our telecommunications and online networks. Data transport speeds will increase to 10 times faster than what they are with 4G. As countries across the globe discover and develop new 5G innovations, so too will terrorist organizations, private actors, and lone offenders. If there is a new technology breakthrough with the public at large, it will no doubt be leveraged by bad actors who will develop and discover their own insidious innovations and exploitations.

While working on counterterrorism efforts at the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration, I became familiar with how private actors and terrorist organizations exploit any vulnerabilities they can, especially when it comes to online networks and using the internet. These bad actors exploit network vulnerabilities to target and disrupt critical infrastructure, and access and exploit information and people.

It is no secret that the Chinese government has built in capabilities to control the online access of its own citizens. It is also widely known that Huawei is essentially state controlled and influenced. Reports note the company is 99 percent answerable to the Chinese government. Various backdoors, control measures, and surveillance applications have been built directly into the “Great Firewall” of Chinese online infrastructure.

Many of these surreptitious access points and controls are coded into core software and engineered into hardware. While at the Department of Homeland Security, I met with a senior Chinese counterterrorism delegation. I asked them how they address online radicalization to violence. Without hesitation, they replied, “We turn the internet off.” If the Chinese government uses these vulnerabilities to its advantage, you can guarantee that terrorist organizations will also seek to exploit them.

That explains why Prime Minister Theresa May announcing that the United Kingdom will allow Huawei to build noncore 5G functions is a significant problem. Not only is it a British security risk, but it also affects American and allied security. Allowing Huawei onto our collective 5G networks would be like inviting inside a Trojan horse that can be exploited by the Chinese government and other bad actors. The British government has cited compromising vulnerabilities in the Huawei supply chain. Several years ago Vodafone discovered security flaws in Huawei software that, while not fatal, continue to compromise the reputation of the company.

Because of these software and hardware vulnerabilities, likely created with purpose, Huawei and the Chinese 5G supply chain cannot be trusted. The supply chain security is beyond suspicious, and some American allies have already banned the use of Huawei 5G technology. Since the Huawei and Chinese 5G supply chain has more holes than Swiss cheese, it is fair to expect not if but when bad actors will exploit these vulnerabilities.

Some of the greatest deterrents we have against terrorists using online networks and the internet are awareness and intelligence. With Huawei potentially holding a monopoly on the flow and curation of 5G information across the globe, who knows if it will allow adequate access to investigate terrorist threats, emerging trends, threat vectors, and critical data. Huawei will essentially become an all knowing information provider and could handicap the United States and allied intelligence communities. Imagine the embarrassment of relying on Huawei for intelligence to investigate domestic terrorist threats in our own backyard, let alone the potential international ramifications. Even if access is given, the information could be suspicious. Needless to say, bad actors will exploit these blind spots.

The United States should lead the fight for shared principles and ensure competition and interoperability among technology vendors. The Trump administration should focus on building a coalition of our closest allies instead of ridiculing them. This key coalition should push for mandating interoperability among technology providers, ensuring that one company does not become the sole provider for unimagined future technologies like 6G, and tackling risks through diversification and threat dispersion.

The coalition should also demand that Huawei provide the interoperable technology to strengthen noncore technology. Without diversity of secure technology in the 5G ecosystem, the United States leaves itself open to exploitation. Should these demands not be met, the coalition will need to develop new information sharing agreements to mitigate the simple fact that Huawei cannot be a trusted reliable information provider. The United States, along with our closest allies, should lead in the race to develop forward looking and competitive 5G infrastructure technology and policy, or risk falling prey to bad actors. If we are able to get our act together, we still have the opportunity to positively impact 5G development, but we must act now before it is too late. Our national security depends on it.

Nate Snyder is a senior advisor with Cambridge Global Advisors. He was a senior counterterrorism official with the Department of Homeland Security and the Countering Violent Extremism Task Force under President Obama.

Commentary: 5G Is The Essential National Security Imperative Of Our Time

By: Christopher Burnham

The hype around 5G is real—it will change how we communicate, travel, fight wars, drive (or not drive) cars, and educate our children. It will also change how doctors operate and treat and heal the sick. It is the most important modernization of our infrastructure that we can do until quantum computing is perfected. It is also the single most important national security imperative for the US for the next ten years.

In the race to 5G, it’s clear that the Chinese have an advantage because their government can tell companies “give back the spectrum we licensed to you”, and then reallocate it to where it can be the most effective in winning the 5G race. Spectrum in the US (think radio waves), has been given away or sold for pennies by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for decades. President Lyndon Johnson made $20 million getting the FCC to sell him radio and T.V. spectrum for two Texas stations for pennies back in the 1940s. That certainly has ended in recent years—just in the last four years the FCC has auctioned off two spectrum ranges for more than $50 billion.

Over the past forty years, spectrum for mobile phones, satellite communications and T.V., GPS services, and hundreds of other applications has been awarded by the FCC to jump-start the communications revolution we now take for granted. To fully implement 5G across all communities in the U.S., the FCC must now figure out how to allocate spectrum from the very lowest frequency to incredibly high millimeter wave frequency. The backbone will be (for lack of a better way to describe it) in the middle frequency—or the part that was given away for free to government satellite companies back in the 1960s, that then became the struggling satellite companies of today. This is known as “C-band spectrum”, and you will see the numbers 3.7 to 4.2 gigahertz associated with that band. C-band is what enables you to watch the championship basketball game on cable TV as it is the backhaul for ESPN and other networks.

However, C-band is not the only spectrum needed to fully implement 5G. Lower and higher frequencies are also needed. The trouble is, it’s a trade-off. Low frequency is great at going very long distances and can penetrate buildings, forests, even mountains and oceans if ultra-low frequency. That is how our submarines communicate back to the U.S. from deep within the ocean. The trouble is, low frequency also means low bandwidth. High frequency has enormous bandwidth. But it can only go very short distances, and rain, snow, trees, let alone buildings, can disrupt or block it. That is why at that end of the proposed 5G spectrum, you will need an antenna every couple 100 yards or so versus current cell phone towers today, which are miles apart.

What the FCC must now do is figure out how to get back all this spectrum and auction it to those cellular companies building the 5G backbone. Other countries have recently held highly successful auctions for this spectrum range. Some of the mid-band spectrum is also controlled by the U.S. military—and is essential for radar. Unused portions of this will need to be reallocated to the FCC for auctioning to 5G companies.

This piece originally appeared in Forbes on April 12, 2019.

Commentary: A Centralized, National 5G Network Would Pose More Harm Than Good

By: Frank Taylor

This op-ed originally appeared in Homeland Security Today, March 20, 2019.

5G wireless technology is poised to become a critical piece of infrastructure at home and abroad, and the efforts well underway by U.S. wireless carriers to develop and deploy 5G are not only a matter of economic security, but also of national security. Not only will 5G mean lightning-fast data speeds upward of 20Gbps that will usher in a host of innovations, but the fifth generation of connectivity will allow for more secure and better connections among Internet of Things, enterprise networking and critical communications. 5G will only grow in importance as federal agencies, like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the State Department, continue efforts to modernize current systems and processes.

However, there has been some recent advocacy for the development of a single, government-owned and managed 5G network. This idea has grown based on fears that China is both leading in the race to 5G and that Chinese network equipment poses a security threat. To be clear, American leadership and security are paramount for the best development of the 5G network, but a nationalized commodity is the wrong approach to ensure the safety and security of American mobile network users. As FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr recently wrote, this is a race between two very different models, “the central planning and industrial policies of China versus America’s free markets.”

Beyond the anti-American nature of a nationalized 5G network, there are already security risks and implications of the increased connectivity between 5G devices. A government network would create more harm than good for several reasons. 

First, a nationwide government network would take years to deploy, launching long after American wireless carriers roll out their own. The U.S. was first to deploy 4G wireless technology, and is already on the cusp of nationwide deployment of 5G technology, as all national wireless carriers have announced plans to deploy a 5G network, with some beginning as early as this year.

Second, the government is not known for being at the forefront of technological advances, nor for having the tightest cyber and data security. For example, one of the largest government data breaches in the history of this country occurred in 2015 when the Chinese hacked the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) database, exposing the sensitive data of more than 21 million Americans. With such a track record, how can we trust the government to secure a single nationwide 5G network?

Furthermore, a single network creates one centralized target for bad actors, like a giant bull’s-eye. Rather, decentralized networks create redundancy and offer a more secure approach to wireless communications.

American companies have also been steadfast in leading the global standard setting necessary for an interconnected 5G platform. Through umbrella standards groups like the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), U.S. companies have been advocating for open and transparent standards for 5G, much as they did with 4G connectivity in the early 2000s. This commitment to open, transparent and impartial standards is necessary to ensure that the American homeland, individual citizens, companies, and the government do not face undue cybersecurity risks.

By its nature, 5G architecture’s unique specifications add many security layers, which is in addition to the many security features that wireless carriers are adding within their networks. These features are necessary to protect the capabilities that 5G brings with it — whether that be enhanced machine learning or driverless vehicle-to-vehicle technology. American wireless carriers have a longstanding history of protecting networks from cyber risks and vulnerabilities, which the federal government does not.

According to 5G Americas, “The mobile wireless industry’s longstanding emphasis on security has been a strong market differentiator against many other wireless technologies which have network architectures that are inherently more vulnerable. Even mobile’s use of licensed spectrum provides a powerful additional layer of protection against eavesdropping on data, voice and video traffic.”

While a government-owned 5G network has some inherent weaknesses, there is a clear role for the government to play in the rollout of 5G. To ensure that our data is secure, and that Americans are not subject to malicious actors through backdoors of foreign technology, the government can maximize its long-established private-public partnerships (P3s). The government can, and should, aid in information-sharing, standard-setting, and adoption of best practices to ensure that our national security needs are met while simultaneously allowing industry to continue leading through innovation. Through the latest reorganization at DHS, which includes establishing the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), we can ensure that the telecom companies have the latest in cybersecurity intelligence and best practices so that not only will 5G be lightning fast, but also secure. 

Rather than pursuing a centralized network that will take years to build and create unnecessary vulnerabilities, the federal government should facilitate the ongoing industry efforts to usher in the next generation of secure wireless connectivity. Government should not be in the middle of innovation — instead, government should exist to foster innovation.

Press Release: CGA's Jake Braun Testifies Before U.S. House Homeland Security Committee

Washington, DC (February 13, 2019) - Today, Jake Braun, co-founder of the Voting Village at DEF CON -- the world’s largest and longest running hacker conference -- testified before the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee about the cybersecurity threats facing our nation’s elections infrastructure.  Citing DEF CON’s own groundbreaking research that it has conducted over the last two years in the aftermath of the Russian hacking during the 2016 elections, Braun’s testimony represented one of the first times DEF CON was invited to play a prominent role in informing and educating Washington lawmakers on issues of national security.

The testimony also represented a first foray into Washington for the University of Chicago’s Cyber Policy Initiative (CPI), launched last year at DEF CON 26 and currently led by Braun, who serves as its Executive Director. Housed within the Harris School at the University of Chicago, CPI serves as a forum through which hackers, technologists, academics, and the cyber research community can engage policy makers at all levels of government to strengthen our voting systems and our democracy.

“It’s an honor to be here on the Hill wearing both hats today,” said Braun. “Over the last two years, DEF CON has done cutting-edge research to expose and elevate the vulnerabilities in our voting systems -- and now CPI is playing a critical translator role, taking findings out of the ‘hacker’ world and explaining threats and solutions to lawmakers in policy terms, helping to tackle what’s become one of the biggest national security concerns of our time.”

In addition to highlighting the link between national security and protection of our nation’s election infrastructure, Braun highlighted specific vulnerabilities found by the DEF CON Voting Village demonstration, which represented the first public, third-party security assessment of voting machines.

Braun also added, “The attacks on our election infrastructure are not solely an election administration nuisance but rather a national security threat,” said Braun. “This is about our national security apparatus marshalling its resources to do what our nation expects it to do, which is protect our country from existential threats to the United States.”

The hearing, called by Representative Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), sought to kick-off debate on H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019.  Braun was joined by notable election leaders including California Secretary of State Alex Padilla; former Cook County, Illinois, Director of Elections Noah Praetz; Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill; Christopher C. Krebs, Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security; and Thomas Hicks, Chairman, U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Additional Resources:

For a full video of the proceedings, please visit

For Braun’s full testimony, please visit:

For the full 2017 DEF CON report, please visit CON 25 voting village report.pdf

For the full 2018 DEF CON report, please visit CON 26 voting village report.pdf