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More Than 200 Thought Leaders Convene to Spur Pittsburgh's Role as Center for Cybersecurity Innovation


February 9, 2016—Citing the region's seminal role and long history in the field, former Pennsylvania Governor and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge called Pittsburgh "the tip of the cybersecurity spear." Ridge offered his remarks as keynote speaker for the inaugural Cyburgh, PA Initiative event, which was conducted February 1, 2016 at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The SEI's CERT Division, the Pittsburgh Technology Council (PTC), and CMU organized this event to bring local organizations together to identify shared cybersecurity challenges, barriers to success, needed resources, and solutions. The goal of the initiative is to help organizations use the world-class resources available in Pittsburgh to create a local, collaborative cybersecurity innovation and education center.

In his morning address, Ridge noted that Pittsburgh is home to a number of leading institutions in the field of cybersecurity, including the SEI's CERT Division, which was created at the request of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 1988 in response to the Morris Worm. Ridge also noted CMU’s Cylab, the University of Pittsburgh, and the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance (NCFTA), all of which call Pittsburgh home. "You’re at the epicenter, you were at the founding, you have a brand," said Ridge. "You take no back seat when it comes to cybersecurity, including Silicon Valley."

David J. Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, delivered the afternoon keynote. Hickton’s office was instrumental in dismantling Dark0de, an online black market used, among other illicit purposes, for the exchange of stolen data. In 2014, Hickton became the first U.S. attorney to file charges against known Chinese state actors for hacking U.S. companies and labor organizations. "We need to recognize that to protect our country we need to share the insight we have here," said Hickton. He added, "There is no better place in the country than Pittsburgh for this. We have the talent, the record, and the tools."

The daylong event attracted a sell-out audience of chief information security officers and others charged with maintaining the security and integrity computer systems, networks, and data they carry. Attendees represented a cross-section of Pittsburgh enterprises from the public and private sectors and academia. Security professionals from Alcoa, BNYMellon, the FBI's Pittsburgh office, NCFTA, PNCBank, Uber's Advanced Technologies Center, and other organizations presented educational tracks that focused on the theme of people, process, and technology.

Event organizers, the SEI’s Summer Craze Fowler and David Ulicne, note that Cyburgh, PA is an initiative they want to extend well beyond a one-day workshop. "Cybersecurity was born here in Pittsburgh with the founding of CERT, and it is the perfect time for Pittsburgh to emerge as the internationally-recognized cybersecurity center of excellence world-wide," notes Fowler. Along with the Pittsburgh Technology Council, the SEI's CERT Division and the broader CMU community will be planning and hosting several events to address cybersecurity challenges in the focus areas of people, process, and technology. These include the release of a cybersecurity education initiative called CyberLEAP to the Pittsburgh K-12 community, roundtables with area CISOs, and sector-focused webinars for cybersecurity practitioners. 

More information on Cyburgh, PA can be found in the PTC's latest edition of the teQ magazine ( or at