ATLANTA – Just days after history’s largest cyber-attack disrupted business worldwide and a new executive order from President Trump lent special urgency to the work of protecting the cybersecurity of federal networks and critical infrastructure, cybersecurity experts from both the public and private sectors gathered in Atlanta May 22 for the first Cyber-FORUM.
With a program titled Exploring Payments Resiliency in Transaction Alley, the event was hosted by the American Transaction Processors Coalition (ATPC) in conjunction with Members of the United States Senate Payments Innovation Caucus. Discussions at the 9:00 a.m.-Noon session at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (1000 Peachtree St, NE) centered on safeguarding against cyber-attacks on Transaction Alley, the swath of Metro Atlanta where more than 70 percent of all credit, debit, gift and prepaid card transactions in the United States are processed. Over $7.4 Trillion in transactions are processed through payments companies either headquartered in or have operations in Transaction Alley which is arguably where the world’s largest cluster of payments companies reside.
“Transaction Alley is a global center of gravity for FinTech and the payments industry. Our payments companies and the products and services they are the life’s blood of our economy,” said H. West Richards, ATPC’s Executive Director. “But the ingenuity and determination of those who would disrupt – and even destroy – that system is boundless. At Cyber-FORUM, we examined our industry’s challenges and discussed the next critical steps needed from both the public and private sectors to assure that cyber attackers cannot succeed.”
Richards added, “I could not be more impressed by the leadership of the United States Senate Payments Innovation Caucus, Georgia’s political leaders and state agencies, our federal partners in both Atlanta and Washington, DC, and that of the payments industry in supporting the concept of a Cyber-FORUM. This will provide a forum for cyber experts in government and industry to routinely meet and collaborate on issues such as detection, prevention, and disaster recovery. Improving the cyber resiliency of Transaction Alley clearly is in the national security interest of not just the United States, but our partners around the world.”
Symbolizing the Atlanta area’s role as a critical link in the electronic payments network, both of Georgia’s U.S. senators – Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Co-Chairman of the United States Senate Payments Innovation Caucus, and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), a member of that Caucus, attended the inaugural Cyber-FORUM. Sen. Perdue chaired the industry panel where he listened to inputs and perspectives on today’s cyber challenges with respect to Transaction Alley. Sen. Isakson chaired the government panel where he, too, heard the viewpoints of a very esteemed group of government experts familiar with the threats to Georgia’s Transaction Alley.
“At this first Transaction Alley Cyber-FORUM, we are bringing together the best minds from both government and the private sectors to address critical security issues facing the electronic payments industry and to develop effective solutions,” said Sen. Isakson. “I am grateful for the American Transaction Processors Coalition for convening such an important forum, which is in the best interest of our economic, financial and national security. I am proud to be a part of it.”
Sen. Perdue added, “It’s fitting Atlanta is the host of this event, given the enormous role the region plays in electronic transaction processing. Companies based here in Transaction Alley, along with local and state officials, work hard to combat cyber security threats and stay ahead of the curve. Georgia plays a key role in protecting our nation’s consumers and businesses, and I look forward to working with everyone here today to continue these efforts.”
The keynote address was delivered by Tom Fanning, CEO, President, and Chairman, Southern Company. Fanning also serves as Chairman, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, co-chairs the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council and is Chairman of the Edison Institute.
Cyber-FORUM included two panels, one from the private sector and one from the public sector, where the Senators heard perspectives on current cyber threats, past challenges and the value of an ongoing Cyber-FORUM platform that will provide help in securing the very important piece of America’s consumer financial grid that resides in Transaction Alley.
Representatives participating in the industry panel included: Dr. Rob Martin, Vice President of Security Solutions, IngenicoGroup North America; Doug Sandberg, Chief Legal Officer, WorldpayUS; and Jeff Schlauder, Chief Security Officer, InComm.
A separate panel on government cybersecurity (at both the state and federal levels) featured: Chris Carr, Attorney General, State of Georgia; Ricardo Grave-de-Peralta, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta office; John Horn, United States Attorney, Northern District of Georgia, U.S. Department of Justice; Calvin Rhodes, Executive Director, Georgia Technology Authority; and Klint Walker, Cyber Security Advisor for Region IV, Department of Homeland Security.
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