Policymakers in Washington play a critical role in shaping the country’s cybersecurity policies. To effectively address the ever-evolving security threats facing the nation, we believe they should work together with technical practitioners and cybersecurity researchers.

I Am The Cavalry hosted a group of cybersecurity professionals and enthusiasts from across the country at “Hackers on the Hill” to do just that. The event began at the U.S. Capitol and concluded at the White House, ensuring members of the community got the chance to meet with representatives of both branches of government. The purpose of the event was to engage security advocates and unite the hacker community with lawmakers, along with the broader public policy community.

Hackers on the Hill attendees heard from tech policy advisors in both government and the private industry who explained the legislative process and briefed the group on where members of both political parties have worked together to address some of the nation’s most important cybersecurity questions. A longtime Capitol Hill staffer explained that, unlike some policy issues, the politics of cyber are a little different: no one wants to get hacked. Additionally, staffers reiterated that engaging with one’s elected officials is key to creating strong policies.

In the second briefing, cybersecurity attorney Harley Geiger gave a presentation on recent legislative successes at both the federal and state levels. Geiger also shared his predictions as to which bills might (or might not) see movement throughout the next Congress.

Following the general briefings, security researchers were paired with an ambassador who accompanied them during individual meetings with House and Senate policy staff. During these meetings, researchers discussed ongoing cybersecurity legislation, cyber policy debates and had the opportunity to share some of their biggest security concerns for the future.

But the day didn’t end there. Ambassadors then led attendees off The Hill and down Pennsylvania Ave. to meet with White House officials.

National Cyber Director Chris Inglis and Federal Chief Information Officer Clare Martorana hosted attendees in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to get their perspectives on future federal initiatives. Following a panel discussion focused on cybersecurity public policymaking, and remarks from Assistant National Cyber Director for Strategy and Research Harry Krejsa, participants broke into groups to discuss critical security topics ranging from combating ransomware to strengthening open-source software security.

Through this experience, many attendees’ gained a greater understanding of the often complicated policy-making process. At the same time, policy staffers were able to hear new perspectives directly from the cybersecurity professionals and enthusiasts who work on these issues. 

To learn about future events, follow @HillHackers or visit http://hackersonthehill.org.