Announcing Recipients of the Inaugural Cyber Policy Awards

April 26, 2024 – Five recipients of the Cyber Policy Award of Merit, featuring The Atlas trophy, were revealed and celebrated at this week’s inaugural awards event in Washington, DC before a full house of cybersecurity community leaders across the public sector, industry, and civil society.

This first edition of the new annual event was presented by the Institute for Security and Technology (IST) in partnership with the Center for Cybersecurity Policy and Law (CCPL).  Organizing committee chair and IST Chief Trust Officer Steve Kelly hosted the event alongside CCPL Deputy Coordinator Bri Law. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President Vince Voci served as the event’s announcer. The recipients were selected by an independent panel of judges from among 43 total nominees, narrowed to four finalists in each category announced earlier this month.

The recipients are as follows:

The U.S. Domestic Policy Impact Award—presented by IST Chief Strategy Officer Megan Stifel and Cyber Threat Alliance CEO Michael Daniel—went to Rob Knake, Harry Krejsa, Drenan Dudley, and Nick Leiserson for influencing the trajectory of U.S. cyber policy through the National Cybersecurity Strategy and implementation plan.

Rob Knake acknowledged the role of many in the room who had been involved in the creation of the National Cybersecurity Strategy. “I think I could thank almost every person in this room for contributing to the strategy, not only over the year of writing it and the year of implementing it, but in the 20 years preceding it where we as a community were testing and shaping the ideas that were the building blocks for the strategy.” 

Nick Leiserson, key champion of the strategy’s implementation plan, thanked the team who had “done all of the yeoman’s work of building our soon-to-be released next version of the National Cybersecurity Strategy implementation plan.”

Knake also acknowledged fellow finalist Josh Corman, founder of the grassroots organization I Am The Cavalry. “You are probably the single greatest public entrepreneur operating in cyberspace,” he said.

The International Policy Impact Award—presented by global cyber diplomat Christopher Painter and Bryony Crown, head of cyber policy at the British Embassy in Washington—resulted in a tie as determined by the judges, and thus co-winners.

The Atlas went to The Tallinn Mechanism—established by Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States—for supporting Ukraine’s self-defense in cyberspace and longer-term cyber resiliency.

Liesyl Franz, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Cyberspace Security at the U.S. Department of State, noted the importance of the Tallinn Mechanism. “We, along with our colleagues around the world, recognize that disruptive Russian cyber operations and cyber activities are expected to continue well beyond any formal cessation of hostilities. And so this mechanism is committed to supporting Ukraine’s cyber capacity building needs now, and to win the way…over the long term.” Acknowledging the 10 members of the Mechanism, she said it “gives a great sense of the coalition building that we have been doing for the past 20 years at the State Department—and probably even before that.” 

Estonia’s Deputy Defense Counselor Oliver Mõru said, “continuing helping Ukraine on cyber is of the utmost importance not only on the civilian field but also on the military side. Ukraine cannot win on the ground without getting things right on cyber.” He reflected, “before this mechanism, there was no coordinated effort to help Ukraine in the cyber field.”

Poland’s Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States Adam Krzywosądzki said “[w]e in Poland recognized very early on that cybersecurity is a very important sector and area in this war…At some point, we understood that there is a need for enhanced cooperation and coordination on the part of like-minded countries to help Ukrainians strengthen their civilian sector capabilities when it comes to cybersecurity. And in such an optimistic week when the supplemental bill has just been signed into law by President Biden today, I think there is a reason for a lot of optimism on our side and on the part of the transatlantic community.”

Representatives from the British and Dutch diplomatic community were also present for the ceremony.

The Atlas also went to The Honorable Chris Inglis for his thought leadership while the inaugural National Cyber Director and influence among allies and partners. 

“This is a team sport. And the wisdom and the hard work of everyone in this room is what I was privileged to stand alongside. And so the greatest gift to me is the gift I’ve already enjoyed, which is working with all of you,” Inglis reflected. 

The Ecosystem Champion Award—presented by Paladin Global Institute President Kemba Walden and CCPL Coordinator Ari Schwartz—went to The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework Team for helping organizations of all sizes manage cyber risk by publishing a landmark revision to the Cybersecurity Framework (CSF 2.0). 

Kevin Stine, Director of the Information Technology Laboratory at NIST reflected on the changes in the way NIST views its role. “The irony in [NIST receiving a policy award] is that, for many years NIST avoided the word ‘policy’—we don’t issue policy from a cybersecurity perspective. Around the time [Executive Order 13636 on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity] was written, 11 years ago, we started to shift the way we had to think about the work that we do in the context of policy. We believe that fundamental research is necessary to develop technically excellent standards and guidance, and those are essential to inform good policy,” he explained. “And a core tenet of the work that we do is that it’s all done in a very open and transparent and collaborative manner with organizations, individuals, even nations all around the world.”

The Cyber Philanthropist of the Year Award—presented by IST CEO Philip Reiner and Wondros President Kiersten Todt—went to Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and craig newmark philanthropies, for advancing the global digital ecosystem’s safety, security, and the rule of law through the Cyber Civil Defense initiative. 

Accepting the award, Craig Newmark acknowledged the dedication and hard work of fellow nominees and those gathered in the room and said, “I will point out that any success I’ve had in this or any other area has been, in my case, by accidentally being in the right time and the right place, making me the ‘Forrest Gump of the Internet.’ And since even George Costanza knows to leave them wanting more, thanks folks.”

Following the announcement, organizations from across the Cyber Civil Defense initiative came together to participate in a video reflecting on what cyber civil defense means to them, recognizing Craig’s impact, and thanking him for his efforts. “From all of us at the Cyber Civil Defense Initiative, thank you Craig for all that you do to make the world a safer, more cyber-secure place,” concluded IST Chief Strategy Officer Megan Stifel.

IST and CCPL thank all members of the cyber policy community—including those who submitted nominations, participated in the organizing committee, served as judges, and attended the event—for making it such a success!