Industry leaders highlight how the Alamo City’s big cyber ecosystem can grow collaborations that address security priorities across North America.
TORONTO, CANADA—Executives from San Antonio’s tech community continue to engage U.S. and Canadian private- and public-sector leaders in an ongoing collaboration to safeguard digital assets that ensure each nation’s security, including power generation, defense and the flow of commerce.
Leaders from Port San Antonio, CyberSecurity San Antonio and technology solutions company IOMAXIS comprised the Alamo City’s delegation during Canada’s second annual International Urban Security and Resilience Conference from May 8-10.
The Port and IOMAXIS conducted presentations addressing cross—technology innovation and the evolving nature of cyber threats faced by institutions in both countries: defense, financial services, telecommunications and power grids, among others.
The event was also an opportunity for San Antonio to directly engage top government and private—sector principals from Canada—strengthening ties between cybersecurity innovators and the application of their technology across multiple sectors. Participants also included senior Canadian military and intelligence officials, as well as security executives from the country’s major electric utility organizations—among the largest in North America.
Security of digital assets and hardware impacts all of our lives—from our home appliances to our banking institutions to our armed forces, said Port San Antonio’s Interim President and CEO Jim Perschbach.
There’s a world of opportunities for leading innovators to identify and defend against global threats that seek to exploit those systems. Forums such as this one are fundamental to address challenges and opportunities we share with our close allies. Texas and Canada are leading global economies that face many of the same concerns, including safeguarding massive power grids, big cities and expansive infrastructure.
We’re also both home to leading global industries where advances in information technology can be applied to compete globally. Together, we can make our factories more productive, our transportation more efficient, our medicine more effective and our computers smarter, he added.
Perschbach noted that Port San Antonio is an important platform for the integration of technologies within the U.S. and globally. The 1,900—acre campus in southwest San Antonio has a 100—year legacy as a center for aerospace innovation. As the site of the former Kelly Air Force Base, which closed in 2001, the property was the birthplace of large military aviation projects at the dawn of the 20th century.
In recent years, through the Port’s strategic redevelopment efforts, the site has evolved into a home for over 80 employers. They include major aerospace, cybersecurity, U.S. Department of Defense and advanced manufacturing operations.
Perschbach pointed to Project Tech, a new facility in the heart of the Port campus, as the cornerstone of a growing environment that is tailored to enhance collaboration and innovation between key industries at the Port and throughout the region. Of particular significance is the site’s ability to be a platform for the integration of aerospace and cybersecurity innovation—two mature industries that already employ thousands of experts on the Port campus.
Our property is uniquely positioned as a place where industries can work side—by—side and problem—solvers can quickly meet the needs of the world’s most advanced industries, said Perschbach.
Proximity is the key to innovation—whether it’s cybersecurity or applying digital technology to other sectors. This is the spirit that brings us to Canada as we engage with like—minded people to strengthen the capabilities we have today and accelerate the pace of innovation in the years ahead.
He also noted that the economies of San Antonio and Toronto are increasingly connected. He pointed out that an important step bringing together the cybersecurity communities in both nations took place in 2017, when the CyberTexas Foundation entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Canadian Advanced Technology Association’s (CATA) Cyber Council. The two organizations pledged to strengthen the dialogue and collaboration between their respective members, with a focus on developing security strategies that benefit the cyber defense interests of both nations.
I am very pleased to see the groundwork we laid just a few months ago is already yielding positive results, said Joe Sanchez, Executive Director of the CyberTexas Foundation.
San Antonio’s participation at this year’s security summit in Toronto reinforces the spirit of goodwill outlined in our recent MOU with our Canadian counterparts. We look forward to continuing this dialogue——and achieving meaningful results——for years to come.
Perschbach also applauded aviation leaders in both cities for launching direct non—stop flights in 2017. Thanks to that effort, the 1,500—mile distance between San Antonio and Toronto can be covered in just over three hours—expanding opportunities for advanced technology professionals to collaborate.
These are very dynamic times in our industry, and for us to succeed it is imperative that we keep ahead of threats and that we work very closely with our clients and with our allies, said Retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Mike LeFever, who serves as the Chief Operating Office for IOMAXIS and was among the expert panelists at the conference. The Texas—based company expanded its operations to Port San Antonio in 2016 to support U.S. Department of Defense cyber operations in the region.
A renowned cybersecurity expert, LeFever’s 38—year military career included serving as the Director of Strategic Operational Planning at the National Counterterrorism Center, within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He also served as both the Commander of the Office of Defense Representative in Pakistan and the Commander of the Joint Task Force in Pakistan, leading all U.S. Armed Forces in that country from 2008 to 2011.
The threats that cyberattacks pose are real and are at the forefront of national defense priorities, he added.
By attacking the networks that operate a power plant or our transportation systems, for example, a hostile nation can impact millions of lives. Given this urgency, international forums like this one in Toronto are especially important as we band together with our allies and develop joint strategies to protect the futures of our two great nations.
Our growing engagements with Canada are the next big step in the evolution of San Antonio’s profile as a leading cybersecurity player in North America, said Will Garrett, Director of CyberSecurity San Antonio, who also joined the event.
San Antonio already has the second—largest concentration of cyber expertise in the U.S., he added.
The Port’s vision to grow as a center of technological innovation and collaboration gives us an important platform that significantly extends the reach of our cyber ecosystem at home, alongside the great efforts of the CyberTexas foundation and leading companies like IOMAXIS who are growing their presence in San Antonio.
We are so pleased to count on San Antonio as a partner in our mutual efforts to accelerate innovation and collaboration in protecting our digital economies, said Katherine Thompson, Chair of CATA’s Cyber Council.
The participation of several key players in San Antonio’s cybersecurity and applied technological growth at this year’s Urban Security and Resilience conference signals an important milestone in the evolution of our program and a reaffirmation of our partnership with the CyberTexas Foundation. As one of the fastest—growing cities in the U.S., and given its long history as a leading defense community, the Alamo City is a natural ally in ensuring a robust and innovative cybersecurity ecosystem across North America.
More than 1,000 cybersecurity experts—uniformed and civilian—are employed by the Air Force within the Port San Antonio campus.
Global aerospace companies employing thousands of technicians, engineers and support personnel have large operations at the Port.