CS4CA Conference Recap

Last week I attended the Cyber Security for Critical Assets conference in Houston. I was impressed. Low key, probably 200 attendees plus reps from 20 vendors. Hight asset owner presence. I loved hearing the hallway conversations — people talking about real challenges and real experiences.

I was surprised by the candor in the technical deep dive sessions: OT security practioners at asset owners talking about how they had built their programs, including what technologies they had selected for what purpose, and what they planned to do next.

I moderated a panel on workforce development. While it seems everyone likes training,  ours was the only presentation that dealt specifically with intentional developing your people. Panelists included Nikolai Zlatarev of Castleton Commodities, Jude Ejiobi of University of Houston Downtown, and Chuck Bondurant of the Texas Public Utilities Commission.

It was a great panel, and I appreciated representation from industry, academia, and (quasi) government. Each panelist had a different professional pathway into OT security, and that was a key take away. It is such an interdisciplinary field.

Nikolai emphasized that the best way to develop skills was through real world experience. He liked to throw people all the way in. He explained that his career was one great challenge after another. He was obviously a man who had learn to thrive in ambiguous environments, and has a knack for keeping a positive attitude.

Jude does a good bit of security consulting work, and was brought into academia as a lecturer, but now helps direct the UH Downtown Masters in Security Management. Practical and well-spoken.

Chuck came into OT security when he learned that he wasn’t cut out for retirement after military service. His job involves liaising with and supporting Texas utilities on cybersecurity. When he took the job, he had no idea what a PLC was, but his military cybersecurity experience gave him a solid foundation to build on.

I think there is great value to having candid conversations about developing ourselves and our programs. I will look forward to next year!

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