Chairman’s Corner: February 2018

I was recently asked to write a piece on cybersecurity for the Washington Times. Below is my article:

‘Zero Trust’ computer policy: A timely solution

Challenges posed by cybercrime are one of the most frightening threats our country faces today.

In recent years, we have had a reactive approach to cybersecurity. We hear about it when an organization has been hacked or sensitive information has been released. Organizations, companies and our government agencies should not simply be reacting when a cybercrime has taken place, but instead need to be proactive.

In order to be proactive, however, the main challenge from which all other cybersecurity issues stem needs to be identified. The United States, along with the entire world, is seeing a global cyber catastrophe that is causing us to reconsider how to establish a network defense. Now more than ever, cybercriminals have access to advanced technologies that put people at risk. That means our government agencies need to establish better defenses.

We have heard of retailers, financial institutions and health care organizations experiencing major hacks, which is why it was disheartening to see that in the 2017 U.S. State and Federal Government Cybersecurity Report, government institutions were listed among the “bottom performers,” scoring lower than retail, health care and information services. I believe that is due to a misidentification of the underlying cybersecurity problem.

The real problem stems from an outdated “computer architecture” that was developed without knowing how today’s cyber connection would look and operate. This obsolete foundation is essentially why cybersecurity attacks take place.

Our defenses are no match for these security breaches. Our computer architecture has reached its ceiling. There was no way the developers and engineers who designed it 40 years ago could have envisioned how the internet and the impact of global connection would have facilitated such cyberthreats. The demand for an increase in computing capabilities and programs overshadowed the computer architecture with the development of the internet.

I have had the opportunity to work alongside experts within the cybersecurity industry who also believe the computer architecture is the main issue at hand. Ed Brinskele, the CEO of Vir2us, has said that IT professionals are dependent on what the “experts” determine are the best practices or defenses for cybersecurity.

“The difficulty is that there has been a significant failure on the part of solutions providers to recognize that a keeping-the-bad-guys-out approach reveals a failure to correctly identify the problem,”  Mr. Brinskele said. “Once the checkpoints in these solutions are bypassed, they provide virtually no security. This is known as an outside-in and top-down approach and is a fundamentally flawed strategy. As a result, these solutions only addressthe symptoms of a much more fundamental design problem.”

To address these newfound security challenges, antivirus and firewalls were created to provide somewhat of a Band-Aid. These solutions are not good enough to combat the technology that is available to cybercriminals.

Our outdated architecture is a sinking ship. There are a number of holes in the boat, and we keep trying to patch it up instead of rebuilding it so we can float. These patches include heuristic algorithms and whitelisting, but even these solutions continue to fail. They simply cannot withstand the constant and ever-changing threats.

Additionally, it is virtually impossible to attempt to pinpoint threats from a list-based strategy. Every day, these lists evolve and develop. There is no way to stay current on possible threats or attacks.

“Antivirus and firewalls are list-based solutions and can only deal with known threats. In today’s world of morphing viruses and malware, these solutions are less than 27 percent effective,” Mr. Brinskele continued. “[A leading consumer cybersecurity firm] recently said that their average time to identify threats and update lists is more than nine months. In a challenge that is moving at the speed of light this is problematic. While combating challenges moving at the speed of light, that solution is unacceptable.”

Not only do these outdated solutions consistently fail, they are also extremely inefficient. It has been reported that these “legacy solutions” can consume up to 80 percent of network bandwidth capacity and computer processing power. These inefficiencies negatively impact revenue and productivity. According to the U.S. Government, global business and institutions lose over $1 trillion to fending off cybercrimes and attacks annually.

Rather than trying to fend off possible attacks, implementing a “Zero Trust” policy or architecture would be significantly more practical and successful than fighting to stay current on a list of emerging threats. With a Zero Trust architecture, the “Known” list is manageable and can be maintained.

As cyberthreats continue to unfold, we need to take a hard look and consider improving our computer architecture. A new approach and a radical change within the cybersecurity industry needs to take place in order to provide dynamic security.

Chairman’s Corner: January 2018

With the start of a new year comes the sense of a new beginning. Many of us will make New Year’s resolutions. Some will succeed and follow through with these goals. Some will simply recommit to goals they have set in the past, but for whatever reason, were not able to see come to fruition.

I, too, have set a number of goals – both personally and professionally. While I have new goals for myself and for our firm, there is one goal that I plan to “recommit” to. It is a goal I try to expand on each and every year we are in business and that is to better live up to the McKeon Group standard.

Responsive. Reliable. Results.

That is the McKeon Group standard. That is what we promise our clients. That is what we deliver. But there is always room for improvement.

As this new year unfolds, I have decided to find measurable ways in which I can better live up to the McKeon Group standard.

I plan on responding to our clients’ needs and helping them see growth and success. When I commit to getting a job or task done, our clients can rest assured knowing that it will be handled in a timely manner. In turn, our clients will see unprecedented results.

As we at the McKeon Group gear up for the 2018 year, our clients can expect us to be responsive, reliable, and ultimately see results – just like they have seen since we opened our doors. The only difference is this year we plan to take it up a notch.

Happy New Year to all!

Chairman McKeon Named a Featured Speaker for the Worldwide Speakers Group

Chairman McKeon has become a featured speaker for the Worldwide Speakers Group. The Worldwide Speakers Group is the “leading global professional services firm providing innovative solutions in the global lecture industry to corporate, trade, education, and commercial customers worldwide.”

There are a number of requirements that must be met in order to become a featured speaker. Chairman McKeon was selected to be a speaker specializing in the following topics: education, government and politics, inspirational and motivational, leadership and strategic management, news and media, success and teamwork, as well as world and international subjects.

Chairman McKeon’s bio and Worldwide Speakers Group profile can be found here.

The McKeon Group Office Expansion Complete

Following a 2017 year that was full of growth, the McKeon Group took necessary action in order to ensure that their office space could accommodate their growing business. It was announced in the December newsletter that the McKeon Group offices were in the process of expanding. Now, just over a month later, all renovations have been completed and the new expansion is complete.

“Now that our office expansion is complete, we are anxious to get to work,” Howard McKeon, President of the McKeon Group, said. “We expect to capitalize on the growth that took place in 2017 and see even more success in 2018.”

The McKeon Group headquarters are located in Alexandria, Virginia. The expanded offices accompany their current space. With over 9,000 square feet of space, there will now be more than twenty offices and three conference rooms.

The McKeon Group Team Highlight: January 2017

During the Fall 2017 semester, Anna Pope worked as an intern for the McKeon Group. Pope was responsible for working with government affairs clients during her time as an intern. At the conclusion of her internship, Pope accepted a full-time position for the McKeon Group as an Associate.

Anna Pope is a government affairs intern at McKeon Group and graduated from Virginia Tech in May of 2017. Anna is from northern Virginia and attended public school in Fairfax County. During her undergraduate years, Anna served in Student Government Association, worked as a Writing Center coach, and interned at Holland & Knight, LLP.

Chairman’s Corner: December 2017

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Jennifer Griffin of Fox News. We were at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library attending the annual Reagan National Defense Forum, along with hundreds of our nation’s brightest and most powerful defense leaders.

In the interview, Jennifer asked me about the state of our military’s readiness. While I do my best to remain positive and hopeful in regards to our country’s future, the truth is we have some glaring issues that need to be resolved in order to strategically plan for and carry out defense measures in the event of an attack.

Following the interview, I was able to reflect on the work we are doing here at the McKeon Group. The 2017 year was an excellent one for our firm. We expanded our business by launching new branches of service, the most successful being our new education and workforce department. We were able to see progress and complete a number of projects on behalf of our clients within the defense, cyber security, agriculture and transportation industries. We hired talented and experienced professionals. We started an exceptional internship program. We expanded our offices.

As great as 2017 was for our business, my interview with Jennifer reminded me that there is still work that needs to be done. We could pat ourselves on the back for what our company has accomplished this year, but that does not move the work forward. Instead, it is time to buckle down and continue the good fight here in Washington.

I consider myself a blessed man to be surrounded by an incredible team here at the McKeon Group, but I also understand we must stay motivated in order to help further great causes. And in 2018, you will see the McKeon Group team doing just that.

Chairman McKeon Recognized At RNDF

Saturday, December 2nd concluded the annual Reagan National Defense Forum held in Simi Valley, California.

The forum was founded with the purpose of “bringing together leaders and key stakeholders in the defense community – including members of Congress, military leaders, industry, scholars, and administration officials – to address the health of our national defense and stimulate discussions that promote policies to strengthen the U.S. military.

Chairman McKeon has played a major role in the forum since its conception, and on Saturday, he received the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Service Award for his efforts and accomplishments within the defense industry.

The McKeon Group Expansion

This year, the McKeon Group saw their business and influence continue to grow within the defense industry while simultaneously launching a successful education and workforce division. The McKeon Group now has clients spanning across a number of industries including: cybersecurity, defense, education, labor, technology, agriculture, transportation, international affairs, and government contracting.

After experiencing continued growth throughout the 2017 year, the McKeon Group expanded their services, their team, and even their offices.

“This year was an exciting and successful year for our company,” Howard McKeon, President of the McKeon Group said. “We expect 2018 to be even better. As a result of our continued growth as both a business and staff, we more than doubled the size of our offices.”

The McKeon Group headquarters are located in Alexandria, Virginia, with the expanded offices accompanying their current space. With over 9,000 square feet of space, there will now be more than twenty offices and three conference rooms.

“The office expansion will allow our team to service more clients as well as ensure that our current clients’ needs are met and exceeded,” McKeon stated.

The new offices are expected to open mid-December of 2017.

The McKeon Group Travels to California

Last weekend, the Chairman and the McKeon Group team traveled to southern California to take part in a number of leadership and defense functions.

The first event was the McKeon Leadership Forum which was held on Thursday, November 30 as part of an annual speaker series designed to help people understand the impact they can make within their own communities. Chairman McKeon launched the forum after he retired from Congress and continues to play an active role in the event each year.

“The McKeon Leadership Forum allows me the opportunity to stay actively involved in my home district, which remains a priority for me,” Chairman McKeon said. “It is an honor to help the community in any way I can.”

On December 1-2, the McKeon Group participated in the Reagan National Defense Forum. This annual forum includes a number of panels and presentations with the nation’s top leaders within the defense industry. Chairman McKeon was recognized for his service within the defense realm.

“It was a successful and busy weekend for our firm,” the Chairman concluded. “We look forward to working with those we met with at the forum this year.”

School Choice Priority Finds New Path Forward

The Trump Administration’s effort to bolster school choice has found new life through H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, introduced on November 2.

Originally in President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget, the Administration’s proposal to use $1 billion of Title I funding for school choice was not funded by Congressional appropriators from both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate versions of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies funding bills.

Nevertheless, the Administration continues to prioritize school choice and has found a new angle for its top K-12 education priority. H.R. 1 would expand section 529 college savings accounts to be used for K-12 expenses of up to $10,000 annually, including for the cost of private and religious schools.

Tax reform is an uncommon avenue for education policymaking, as the last major tax overhaul occurred over 30 years ago; but, the recent effort has revived hope for some school choice advocates. Others are wary that using 529 accounts does not go far enough to assist low-income families with children attending failing schools.

Some conservative education advocates are critical because they believe if enacted, the policy would only help wealthy families. Mike Petrilli, President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute reacted, “If we are going to use scarce resources to advance school choice, we should do it for poor and working-class kids, not for families who can already afford private school tuition.”

The House began debating tax reform in the Committee on Ways and Means on November 6 and the Senate is poised to introduce its bill later in the week.

At this point in the process, tax bill details remain fluid as the GOP moves toward an initiative that can garner support spanning the wide spectrum of the party. Striking the balance of finding a way to offer school choice to America’s families without reaching further into the federal coffers may prove tricky. Where school choice will shake out in negotiations remains to be seen, but what is clear is that the Administration is committed to seeing its priority come to fruition.