Bay Area Council Blog: Cybersecurity Archive



The Bay Area Council’s Cybersecurity Committee met this week (Feb. 19) in Sacramento to discuss with top state officials the key issues at the center of the national debate over how to strengthen our system against online attacks, data breaches and other digital vulnerabilities. Speakers included Assemblymember Mike Gatto, the newly appointed Chair of the Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection; Justine Cain, Cybersecurity Task Force Coordinator for the California Office of Emergency Services; Robert Morgester, Senior Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice; and Mary DiPietro, Deputy Chief Information Security Officer for the Department of Technology. The group discussed information sharing between government and the private sector; the need for improved laws and regulations; and the need for increased cybersecurity research and education. Assemblymember Gatto encouraged the Council’s Cybersecurity Committee to remain engaged with him on the issue. To get involved in the Council’s cybersecurity work, contact Senior Advisor Matt Gardner.



The Bay Area Council Economic Institute this week announced that effective February 1, 2015 Dr. Micah Weinberg will become President, succeeding long-time leader Dr. Sean Randolph as he assumes the new role of Senior Director. The transition comes as the Economic Institute is enjoying a period of robust growth, in both projects and visibility.

“The future of the Economic Institute couldn’t be brighter,” said Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Chair of the Economic Institute Board of Trustees. “We are extremely fortunate to have a leader of Dr. Weinberg’s caliber take the reins at the same time that Dr. Randolph continues to contribute his immense knowledge and talents to the organization. This change will bring new energy to the institute and deepen the expertise we already bring to exploring and understanding the Bay Area’s unique and unparalleled innovation and economic ecosystem.”

Dr. Weinberg is a nationally recognized economic development and public policy expert who has most recently served as Senior Fellow at the Economic Institute and spearheaded the Bay Area Council’s health care policy work. He has emerged as a leading national health policy analyst authoring several major reports through the Institute and appearing regularly as an expert voice in the state and national media.

Read the press release announcing the change>>


Drone Technologies Rapidly Advancing; Policies to Allow Them, Not So Much

With interest in the use of drones for commercial purposes taking flight, the Bay Area Council recently convened a policy roundtable with national policy expert Lisa Ellman, the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) practice leader at member firm McKenna Long and Aldridge. Ellman talked about the many exciting commercial applications for drones but said the U.S. is lagging the world in developing the policies necessary to allow industry to take full advantage of this exciting technology. “By 2025, it’s thought that UAS will have an economic impact of $82 billion and 100,000 new jobs created here in the U.S.,” Ellman said. “Drones are helpful for industrial uses like powerline inspection, pipeline inspection, flare stack inspection, and infrastructure inspection. Filmmaking, as well.” Commercial use of drones is technically illegal in the U.S., with companies only able to operate them after receiving special exemptions from the Federal Aviation Administration. “It is not too late to fix,” Ellman concludes. “It’s important that innovators come to the table and educate policymakers about the technology that is out there. There is crash avoidance technology that can prevent the drone from running into us, for example.”

Read a more detailed article on drones by Bay Area Council Economic Institute Senior Fellow Matt Gardner>>

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The Bay Area Council this week (Dec. 10) doubled down on its efforts to tackle the region’s most pressing challenges, unveiling a bold policy agenda for 2015 that prioritizes building workforce housing, creating the workforce of the future, securing water supply reliability, battling traffic and modernizing vital communications and energy infrastructure. The Council’s Executive Committee, under the leadership of Chair David Cush, President and CEO of Virgin America, approved a set of policy priorities that include:

Workforce Housing: The Bay Area’s inability to meet housing demand is creating a massive affordability crisis and threatening to hamper the region’s economic growth. The Housing Committee, Co-Chaired by TMG Partners Chairman & CEO Michael Covarrubias and Signature Development Group President Michael Ghielmetti, will focus on ways to ease regulatory barriers and speed new housing in so-called regional “priority development areas.” To engage in our housing work, contact policy Vice President Matt Regan.

21st Century Infrastructure: New energy and communications technologies are essential to building the “smart cities” of the future and driving economic growth. However, the regulatory powers are not keeping pace. Under the leadership of Co-Chairs PG&E Chairman, CEO & President Anthony F. Earley and AT&T California President Kenneth McNeely, the 21st Century Task Force is driving legislative and regulatory change that will enable the development and utilization of advanced energy and communications networks. To engage in the Council’s 21st Century Infrastructure work, contact policy Vice President Michael Cunningham.

Commute Improvement: Growing traffic indicates an expanding economy, but also reflects insufficient transportation capacity and outdated operations. Under the leadership of Arup Principal John Eddy, the Council’s Transportation Committee is focused on leveraging new technologies to boost highway capacity and efficiency, increasing investment in mass transit and identifying new reliable transportation funding sources. To engage in our commute improvement work, contact policy Vice President Michael Cunningham.

Water Supply and Security: With growing and often-conflicting demand and limited supply, ensuring that the Bay Area has sufficient water is vital to the region’s economic health. The Water Committee, Co-Chaired by Montezuma Wetlands Managing Partner Jim Levine and Suffolk Construction Company West Coast President Andrew Ball, will work to ensure Proposition 1 funds support best regional projects and continue to advance coequal goals of supply reliability and environmental preservation in the Bay Delta. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, contact Policy Manager Adrian Covert.

Workforce of the Future: The world of work is changing much faster than the education and training world. This mismatch creates “skills gaps” between what employers want and the skills job applicants possess. Students and educators need better information about the world of work and the skills that are needed for high demand jobs. Employers need strategies for engaging with and influencing the public sector talent/workforce supply chain. The Council will work to establish a regional model of public-private cooperation for the future workforce. To engage in our Workforce of the Future work, contact policy Vice President Linda Galliher.

The Bay Area Council extends its hearty thanks to Board member and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland President and CEO Bert Lubin and Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute Executive Director Janet King for generously hosting our Executive Committee and Board of Directors meeting. The Council has been honored to work with Dr. Lubin in our early childhood education work, including the launch earlier this year of our Talk Read Sing campaign in Oakland.


Growing Concern about Data Breaches

U.S. Postal Service, Department of State! Who’s next? The recent string of hacks into U.S. federal agencies laid bare the clear and present danger that cyber threats pose not just to consumer and business data, but also especially to federal agencies and critical infrastructure.

The Bay Area Council’s Cybersecurity Committee met this week (Nov. 20) to discuss awareness strategies for policy makers and the need for California’s critical infrastructure systems—water, transportation and energy—to be part of the cybersecurity discussion. These interdependent systems rely heavily on advanced communications systems making them vulnerable to cyber breaches. Committee members discussed the need for R&D to protect those systems, preventing cascading disasters from one mode to the next, and developing new approaches that are less inherently vulnerable as possible strategies to minimize the risk.

The Committee continues development of its 2015 program, which includes creating a focused regional dialogue on building cyber resiliency and raising awareness in incumbent legislators and staff members on cybersecurity issues. Special thanks to DLA Piper for hosting the meeting. To get involved in the Council’s cybersecurity policy work please contact Senior Advisor Matt Gardner.


800 Celebrate Giants Win, Business Leadership at 2014 Annual Dinner

About 800 of our closest friends gathered Wednesday (Oct. 29) for the Bay Area Council’s 69th Annual Dinner and Business Hall of Fame at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, where we honored Intuit Founder Scott Cook and former Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO George Halvorson.

Oh yeah, and we turned the whole event into a big viewing party to watch the San Francisco Giants defeat the Kansas City Royals in a rollicking Game 7 that featured a sublime and historic performance by pitcher and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.

Thank you to Presenting Sponsor Kaiser Permanente and CEO Bernard J. Tyson for their continuing support of the Bay Area Council. Thank you also to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and former Mayor Willie Brown for dropping by to add their congratulations to our two honorees.

See a photo gallery of the festivities.



Speaking passionately about the importance of business-education partnerships, Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman addressed a capacity crowd at the STEM Summit in Oakland on Thursday (Oct. 23). The summit opened the 4th Annual Bay Area Science Festival, one of the largest STEM events in the nation. Organized by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, the STEM Summit covered business partnerships, the need for broadband infrastructure improvements, career pathways, and STEM educator perspectives.

Wunderman joined other top business leaders, including Terry Hermiston, Vice President of Biologics Research for Council member Bayer, Sunne Wright McPeak, President and CEO of California Emerging Technology Fund, Rich Robbins, CEO of Wareham Development, and Jim Vanides, Global Education Program Manager for Hewlett-Packard. The group emphasized the importance of inspiring and educating Bay Area students, especially girls and minorities, for the STEM jobs that are located right in this region. There was much agreement on the importance of teacher professional development in STEM subjects and the need for technology integration into all subjects and all grade levels. To engage in the Council’s STEM policy work, contact Vice President Linda Galliher.

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Protecting Your BUSINESS from CYBER CRIME

Cyber crime can affect any business in any industry. Whether criminals target financial information, customer information, intellectual property or other forms of industrial espionage, no industry is immune. Against that backdrop, the Bay Area Council this week (Oct. 16) convened its third annual Cybersecurity Town Hall in partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Chertoff Group Director Lauren Webster led a discussion with three leading executives from the cybersecurity industry: Russ Dietz from GE Research, Fengmin Gong from Cyphort and Chris Finan from Manifold. The panel focused on how businesses should talk to technology partners and vendors, as well as human factors in cybersecurity and issues that can arise from supply chain partners. The speakers reinforced that cybersecurity is never static and that a company can never consider its commitment to securing its information and systems to be completed. In a second panel, DLA Piper Partner David Lisi, talked with Mohan Atreya, Senior Director of Product Management for Intel Security, and Cheyenne Goodman, Corporate Account Manager of FireEye, about how businesses can prepare to address cyber threats, including through employee awareness and education and developing internal systems and processes.

Thank you to Bruce Parelskin Director of Intel Security, for hosting the summit and Michael Kaiser, Executive Director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. Thank you also to partners sfciti, San Mateo County Economic Development Association, and the chambers of commerce of Palo Alto, San Jose/Silicon Valley, Fremont and Santa Clara Chamber and National Venture Capital Association. To engage in our cybersecurity work, contact Senior Advisor Matt Gardner.



At the request of its Cyber Security Committee, the Bay Area Council endorsed Assembly Bill 2200 authored by Assemblyman John Perez. This bill establishes until January 1, 2019, a 12-member California Cyber Security Commission, within the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, as an advisory body to discuss strategies for improving the state’s cyber security and cyber response capabilities.

According to published reports cyber-attacks on the state computer systems average about four and a half a day. Cyber-attacks occur at just about every state agency or department, from the DMV to Social Services, Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board to California’s Public Health Department, California’s Governor’s office to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The departments with the most data breaches: Social Services Department (934), Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (671) and the DMV (592). The state estimates the total cost of these incidents to be at least $3.8 million and the cost to correct these data breaches to be at least $5.1 million.

The Bay Area Council has been leading the charge to establish a robust cyber security infrastructure in California. To engage in the Council’s cyber security work, contact Senior Policy Advisor Matt Gardner.


Bay Area Council Poll: Resounding Support for Upgrading Key Communications, Energy Networks

As more and more people come to rely heavily on mobile and broadband technologies for a wide range of everyday needs – from banking to healthcare — an overwhelming number of Bay Area residents want to be sure the critical infrastructure needed to support these services are in place, according to the 2014 Bay Area Council Poll. Residents by a 76 percent margin support allowing communications companies to expand and upgrade the antennae, towers and fiber-optic cables they use to deliver mobile and broadband services.

For complete results, visit 2014 Bay Area Council Poll.

Residents also agree there is no less urgency for modernizing our outdated energy networks, particularly as climate change, drought and the emergence of new technology-driven products and services are dramatically altering how we generate, deliver and consume energy. The poll found 74 percent of residents think the Bay Area must modernize its energy systems to keep the economy growing. And a resounding 78 percent of residents prioritize making these investments now.

“The Bay Area is the world’s innovation leader and residents understand we need modern communications and energy networks to sustain that dominance,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Unless we prioritize bringing our communications and energy networks into the 21st Century, we risk losing a generation of economic and technological advancement and ceding our innovation-leading position to our competitors.”

The findings come at a time when new technology companies are scrambling for position in the heated mobile marketplace, and when big data and the almost-viral spread of digital products and services into every part of people’s lives requires faster, bigger and more reliable communications networks. The results also come as state and federal officials are increasingly focused on developing the broader policies that are necessary to allow and encourage the private sector to invest in upgrades.

Bay Area residents appear to understand what is at stake, with a resounding 74 percent saying it’s time to drop opposition to upgrading and modernizing communications systems to ensure faster mobile and Internet services. That makes sense considering 66 percent of residents said they rely on a smartphone daily for a variety of tasks, 42 percent say they don’t even use a landline and 20 percent of those that do have a landline today say they won’t have one within five years.

And while 40 percent of residents harbor concerns about health impacts from cell phone antennas, a strong majority of 58 percent say local governments shouldn’t let those objections block the approval of new equipment.

Innovative pricing methods for energy consumption drew significant support among residents. The poll found 62 percent of residents across the region support peak-hour pricing to help reduce demand, and 70 percent said they would sign up for variable pricing to reduce their own energy bills by shifting energy-intensive activities to different times of the day.

The 2014 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research, surveyed more than 1,000 residents in an online poll about a range of issues related to economic growth, housing and transportation, early childhood education, energy and communications, and healthcare. The results are being released over five days beginning May 27.