The increasing sophistication of cyberattacks and the emerging threat of ransomware are placing a new premium not only on high-level technical skills but on bold, effective leadership.

“Each day, the cyber threat landscape changes, and our attackers are unrelenting,” said Rob Potter, vice president of the Americas for Symantec. Cyber leadership must face these evolving threats head-on in order to protect critical systems and data, he said.

Agencies need to increase “C-suite awareness,” said Richard Naylor, CISSP, deputy director of counterintelligence at the Defense Security Service. In order to be successful, agencies need “the C-suite to understand cybersecurity at the same level they understand finances,” he said.

“While leadership in the cyber domain has peculiarities, fundamentally aligning our course to support the organizations’ objectives remains primal,” said Naylor. “Everyone must realize how they fit into the overall strategic goals, what they bring to the effort, and be encouraged to hone their sphere of influence.”

Once executives have a solid understanding of cybersecurity issues, they need to focus on developing a strong team. Naylor said, “Build a diverse team with a cross-section of complementary talents. Establish a team atmosphere based on ‘zero-excuses,’ hold members accountable, reward success, and provide a career path.”

The cyber budget increase to $19 billion for fiscal year 2017 will increase the focus on cybersecurity, spurring the need for strong leadership.

“Our cybersecurity challenges are significant, but fortunately, we have many cyber warriors in government who are doing really amazing work,” said Potter.

Symantec is focused on highlighting these achievements. The company established its Cyber Awards program to recognize individuals who demonstrate excellence and leadership in government cybersecurity through their personal contributions to programs that protect critical data and systems. The deadline to submit a nomination for this year’s awards program is June 1.

“We founded the Cyber Awards to recognize these individuals and their achievements, and we look forward to honoring this year’s winners at the Symantec Government Symposium this summer,” said Potter.

The Government Symposium Advisory Group includes government and industry cybersecurity experts, and serves as the review committee for the awards. The group evaluates each nomination and selects the winners based on their overall approach to cybersecurity, leadership, and impact.

The Advisory Group includes executives from the Department of Homeland Security, Defense Information Systems Agency, Department of State, and more. Each year, this group helps design theSymantec Government Symposium program and select speakers for the event, which will take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 30.

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