Senior Homeland Security official visiting April 17


Peter Fonash

A senior official from the federal agency charged with ensuring a homeland that is safe, secure and resilient against terrorism and other hazards will visit Mississippi State later this month.

Peter Fonash, chief technology officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) cybersecurity and communications organization, will meet with faculty and students, tour several of the university's research labs, and also present a public lecture.

"We are very pleased that Dr. Fonash will be spending time on our campus. In addition to sharing his unique insight, it will provide an opportunity for him to see first-hand the extensive cybersecurity research we are conducting, and the capabilities and expertise we have here," said David Shaw, the land-grant institution's vice president for research and economic development.

According to DHS, the growing number of attacks on cyber networks has become, in President Barack Obama's words, "one of the most serious economic and national security threats our nation faces."

The agency plays a critical role in countering these threats.

Fonash is the architect of the current DHS cyber ecosystem approach to computer and network security. His hour-long presentation at MSU about that approach is open to all, and will take place April 17 at 1:30 p.m. in Colvard Student Union's Fowlkes Auditorium.

"We are excited to have the opportunity to get an in-depth discussion from a senior technical official with Homeland Security on the current blueprint for a secure cyber future and the plan for trustworthy cyberspace. This plan is directly relevant to our research activity at MSU--particularly in the area of security for critical infrastructures," said Ray Vaughn, associate vice president for research and William L. Giles Distinguished Professor of computer science and engineering.

Fonash has held several senior positions at the National Communications System (NCS), including deputy manager and director. Prior to that he was chief, NCS Technology and Programs Division. He managed special presidential and priority communications services technology development, nationwide network modeling and analysis, specialized telecommunications research and development, and the deployment of national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) priority communications services nationwide on all major commercial networks.

Before arriving at the NCS, Fonash served as the chief of the Defense Information System's Agency Joint Combat Support Applications Division, providing technical software integration services to the functional communities and guiding functional applications' compliance with the standard common operational environment. He also worked for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, and was responsible for Defense communications infrastructure policy and program oversight. He was also chairman of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Information Technology (IT) Architecture Council.

From 1986 to 1994, Fonash held various Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) technical management positions, including director of technology, and chief of the Advanced Technology Office. He wrote DISA's strategic plan for transition from a communications services provider to a full scope IT and communications organization. He also managed the development of the technical architecture for information management--the first Department of Defense enterprise architecture.

Before joining the federal government, he worked for AT&T and the Burroughs Corporation (Unisys).

Fonash has a bachelor of science in electrical engineering and a master of science from the University of Pennsylvania, a master of business administration from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, and a doctor of philosophy in information technology and engineering from George Mason University.

For additional information, please contact Vaughn at or 662-325-3570.

Jim Laird | University Relations and the Office of Research and Economic Development

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