The dress code said it all.
When Admiral Michael S. Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, Cyber Command Commander, and recipient of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal recently walked into a cybersecurity conference, his uniform bore 20 ribbons and four badges from his esteemed Navy career. Rogers’ hair was neat and precise, in full compliance with Navy regulation on grooming standards for personal appearance.
His keynote followed the first panel, who wore jeans, cardigans, and button-down shirts with rolled-up sleeves. Kevin Bankston, policy director of the Open Technology Institute, quipped that the “answer to cybersecurity is letting people wear hoodies in D.C.” With a long ponytail and full grey beard, Bruce Schneier—known as one of the world’s best cryptographers—was, for instance decidedly not in compliance with Navy Uniform regulation.
These two cultures have to come together to bridge the twin goals of keeping us safe from online threat, while preserving our liberties online. Bringing the uniforms and the hoodies into one conversation was both a reflection of the challenge, and a call for solutions.
Both Schneier and Alex Stamos, chief information security officer for Yahoo, sparred with Rogers over the issue of building backdoors into source code that would grant government access to important information that technology companies have been resistant to share. Apple and Google recently announced that its software would encrypt all data so the government can’t access it, even if the companies were presented with a warrant.