As the list of primary threats to the United States continues to evolve, the Department of Homeland Security is evolving to meet them with new operations such as the National Risk Management Center (NRMC) the agency announced in July, said Matthew Travis, deputy under secretary for DHS’ National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), today at an event organized by the Professional Services Council.

“On the anniversary on 9/11 when we look back at the founding of the department, cyber was barely even part of the mission back then,” said Travis. “In the 17 years since 9/11 and the 15 years since the department was founded, you’re hearing senior government officials that the cyber threat has eclipsed the threat from terrorism,” he said, noting that those statements have come from DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence.

Not all bad actors are aiming for the same goal. While hackers and vandals pose a threat to networks and systems, NPPD remains focused more on parties that act as thieves and spies in cyberspace, Travis said.

What drove creation of NRMC, he said, was the more recent trend of nation-states targeting critical infrastructure sectors, which Travis characterized as “not a fair fight.”

NRMC aims to work with industry expert to address critical infrastructure vulnerabilities and solve problems together.  On that front, Travis highlighted the importance of bringing in experts from other agencies and from industry, and also the importance of removing some barriers to bringing in private sector talent.

“It’s not the National Risk Management Center, it’s the National Risk Management Center,” he emphasized.

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