Does Everson worry that she'll get bored with her new group's narrow focus? On the contrary, she says, she's thrilled to work for an organization with a specific purpose. "When you have such a defined scope to your mission," Everson explains, "it's very easy to advocate and represent your members' interests."
— Lucia Graves
David Turetsky, new partner at the Akin Group. (Chet Susslin)The former FCC public-safety chief brings his zombie-fighting skills to the private sector.
David Turetsky remembers well the day in January 2013 when someone hacked the government's emergency broadcast system. TV stations blasted out the message that zombies were rising from the grave and warned the public to stay inside. Turetsky was the head of public safety and homeland security for the Federal Communications Commission at the time, and he was not a happy man.
"While the message was amusing and people were able to discern that it was false, it was a particular concern that those systems were accessible to hackers," he says. "It was a special concern that it was a day before the State of the Union, because I was concerned about that happening with the president's face on the television."
Turetsky says he alerted other agencies across the government, and officials were ultimately able to identify the equipment that had been compromised. It turned out that the default passwords provided by the suppliers hadn't been changed — which is not the kind of error anyone serious about cybersecurity should make. Turetsky's mini-"War of the Worlds" moment reaffirmed his strong belief in the need to teach others about the threat posed by a lax attitude toward cybersecurity, including the risks to both national security and the economy. In April, that conviction, coupled with the expertise he developed at the FCC, took the Paramus, New Jersey, native to law firm Akin Gump.
In order to understand what he does for clients at his new job, Turetsky says, it helps to understand what he did in his old one. At the FCC, he was the point man on everything from restoring 911 services in Northern Virginia after they were knocked out by the 2012 derecho, to convincing networks to open up their Wi-Fi services after the Boston Marathon bombing so people could send "I'm OK" messages to their loved ones. When Hurricane Sandy bore down on the East Coast, Turetsky needed to help ensure that cell-phone companies had fuel to keep their generators operating and broadcasters had access to their stations in evacuated areas, so he slept on an air mattress in his FCC office. "We didn't know, even in this area, what the roads would be like the next day," Turetsky says. "The FCC chairman did the same thing," he adds, smiling, "but he had a couch in his office."
As a partner in Akin Gump's public law and policy practice, Turetsky, 57, is now bringing his experience with telecommunications emergencies to the private sector — specifically, by trying to help his clients prevent them. The recent Sony hack is a good example of why companies should be looking to reevaluate their cybersecurity systems and assess the risks, he says. A security breach can not only compromise consumer privacy or corporate strategy; it can also compromise a business's reputation — which is something not all companies understand. "It's important for companies to get the whole picture," Turetsky says. But it is also important, he adds, "for policymakers to understand that, just like government, companies don't have infinite resources and have to assess risks and make choices. And there are no perfect answers."