Groundbreaking ideas and strategies needed in cybersecurity, experts say

At a recent Bunker Labs event at the Capitol, experts spoke to the need for groundbreaking ideas and strategies in cybersecurity and other data-related fields.

“Cybersecurity is very much a wartime occupation where the fight is always real,” said Timothy Booher, chief information security officer for Colgate-Palmolive and a director in the U.S. Cyber Command, a subordinate unit of U.S. Strategic Command. “The demand is much higher than any company or anyone can provide right now.”

He spoke yesterday alongside Col. Doug Matty of U.S. Cyber Command’s Capability Development Group for Bunker Labs’ Muster Madison event. This discussion was part of the Muster Across America tour, which aims to broaden and strengthen the network of military veterans and entrepreneurs.

“We need smart people, hardworking entrepreneurs to come to us with new technologies… because no company can sign a strategic partnership with IBM and sleep well at night because of that — there is no vendor that has the solution out there for us,” Booher said.

Matty emphasized the importance of leadership for entrepreneurs looking to solve significant data-related problems, a trait he says is equally important in the military.

“The DoD, we need folks to come up with innovative ideas,” he said, noting that higher-ups in the Department of Defense see innovation as “the critical thing we need to have to sustain our defense and our security.”

Booher said one big challenge is to navigate a “changing data ecosystem” as information security regulations vary greatly from country-to-country. For example, he pointed to China’s laws as being “completely opposite” from how the European Union deals with software and data rights.

Michael Ertmer, executive director for Bunker Labs Wisconsin, sees potential for young Wisconsinites to fill that demand and solve problems like these, as the UW system churns out scores of industry-ready computer science graduates each year.

He noted that Bunker Labs had a meeting yesterday morning with leadership for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and UW-Madison’s computer science department.

“I actually didn’t realize until this morning that the biggest department on UW-Madison, with the most students, is computer science,” he said. “I think they had something like over 4,600 students — combined undergrad, grad, PhD, and a lot those are certificates or people that are in other majors that are now taking coding.”

Though he said dwindling state funding is a challenge, he called UW-Madison “eager to build more success around software and some hardware programs they’ve already had success with.”

Muster Madison was meant to bring together entrepreneurs, veterans, investors and others from Wisconsin and out-of-state to make connections and strengthen the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem. According to Ertmer, it was a success.

“It’s quite likely something very real will happen in the next couple months coming out of this visit,” he said. “There’s momentum.”

–By Alex Moe