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Cybersecurity: Threats, policy, and responses


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Over the last decade cybersecurity issues have risen in prominence in both the public and private spheres—there have been near daily reports regarding cyber operations launched by nation states, hacking groups and criminal organizations. Cybersecurity was a key issue in the 2016 Presidential election, and as we head toward the 2020 election during the upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic it remains at the forefront. In this conversation, Paul Abbate, Associate Deputy Director of the FBI, and David Levy,  Vice President of Amazon Web Services, will discuss some of the challenges in addressing current cybersecurity threats, formulating policy, and calibrating responses. Javed Ali, Towsley Policymaker in Residence at the Ford School, will moderate the discussion.


Paul Abbate, Associate Deputy Director, FBI
David Levy, Vice President, Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Javed Ali, Towsley Policymaker in Residence (faculty expert/moderator for event)

From the speakers’ bios:

Paul M. Abbate is the associate deputy director of the FBI. In this position, he is responsible for the management of all FBI personnel, budget, administration, and infrastructure. Prior to his appointment in 2018, Abbate was the executive assistant director for the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch. In this role, he was responsible for overseeing all FBI criminal and cyber investigations worldwide, international operations, critical incident response, and victim assistance.

Abbate began his FBI career in March 1996 as a special agent assigned to the New York Field Office, where he worked in the Criminal Division and served as a member of the SWAT Team. He has since worked in many positions within the FBI, including deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving as a supervisory special agent within the Newark Division’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, and special agent in charge of the Detroit Division, covering the state of Michigan. He also served as assistant section chief in the Counterterrorism Division, providing national-level oversight and guidance of all United States-based international terrorism investigations, among other positions.

David Levy leads AWS’s US Government, Nonprofit and Healthcare businesses. He and his teams help Governments, NGOs, Nonprofits and, Healthcare providers realize the potential of technology to transform their organizations and fulfill their missions. In this role, he works closely with national security clients, civilian and defense agencies, nonprofits and hospital systems on their journey to cloud technology.

David is an experienced executive and impactful leader in the information technology sector and for more than 20 years, he has passionately focused on the intersection of technology and organizational change. Prior to joining AWS, David worked for Apple Inc. for 12 years and led the teams that helped government adopt innovative mobile technologies. As head of the U.S. public sector, he played a key role in the introduction and adoption of mobile apps and app stores in federal and state and local governments. Before joining Apple, David worked for Monster.com and helped lead its customer facing teams which played a key role in bringing automation and innovation to federal hiring and recruiting platforms.

Javed Ali is a Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence at the Ford School. A former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, Ali has over 20 years of professional experience in national security and intelligence issues in Washington, D.C., serving in the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While at the FBI, he also held senior positions on joint duty assignments at the National Intelligence Council, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the National Security Council under the Trump Administration. Ali holds a BA in political science from the University of Michigan, a JD from the University of Detroit School of Law, and an MA in international relations from American University.

Sponsored by

Gerald R. Ford School of Public PolicyComputer Science and Engineering