Cybersecurity on a Cloudy Day


It was a cold damp Thursday morning in New York City. The cloud cover was so low that you can’t even see the tops of the bridges and skyscrapers disappear into the fog.

So, why did I travel here on such a gloomy day?

I was asked to be a part of one of the panels here at the New York City and State Digital Summit. This event was organized to bring together technology and policy leaders from different cities and state agencies with key technology companies that help provide services and solutions that might be helpful to those communities represented at the event. There were four panels all covering different cybersecurity-related topics such as Government Modernization, Big Tech Developments, Using Technology to Impact Our Communities, and Navigating Threats to Cyber and Physical Infrastructure.

A common thread throughout all of the panels, and a topic that is close to our hearts here at Extreme, is the many new ways to achieve better outcomes in today’s world. We have shifted our focus at Extreme Networks to start identifying the challenges our customers face and address their concerns with the many ways that our technology can help them reach better outcomes. Many panelists agreed that they are hoping to shift towards focusing on these desired outcomes as well in an effort to prevent government agencies from getting locked into contracts that often leave them stuck with legacy technology which can lead to operational and cyber issues down the line. Future engagements will likely look more into the end result to allow for more flexibility in solutions and contracts, ultimately delivering better and more desired outcomes.

Another theme throughout the day that gave me hope for the future was around closing the digital divide. There was a lot of conversation centered around 5G as I expected, but panelists explored issues far bigger than even 5G will not solve on its own. A key issue in New York City today is ensuring access to affordable internet for all residents. It isn’t enough to lay fiber or have 5G coverage for every building, we have to get that access into the hands of the millions of residents within the city. This can include cabling services within buildings, but more importantly finding devices and services that are affordable for citizens throughout the city. As all of these challenges were mentioned, I began to feel hope as potential solutions were proposed like incorporating end-to-end solutions. It isn’t going to be easy, but with the help and partnership of different organizations and government agencies, there is a vision of an end goal that can create real change in this community.

The other key theme for the day: Cyber, my personal area of expertise and the topic I was most excited to hear discussions around. Conversations around cyber mostly addressed the human element of security controls. People have busy lives and just want to be able to get on with their day, whether that means buying a subway ticket, enrolling their kids in school, reporting a building issue, or simply just having work to get done. Cyber controls need to be effective and seamless for the user whenever possible. Of course, we need more tools to share data on the backend to protect against attackers and malware, but we need to bring users along that journey with us. The best way to do that is to make them aware of what is going on and educate them on how to respond. They need to understand the why for controls and how it can ultimately help them.

So, for most, it was just another cloudy day in the big city, but for me, I felt great hope for the future of this community as experts in both technology and government agencies came together to come up with solutions that will help the great City and State of New York go forward in the digital world.

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Phil Swain Headshot
Philip Swain
Chief Information Security Officer

Philip Swain is the Chief Information Security Officer. He is responsible for implementing and leading the information security strategies for the global enterprise with nearly 3,000 employees spanning 80 countries.

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