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Sep 21 2012

NYIT Conference: Call for Reduced Security Complexity; Skilled, Knowledgeable Cyber Workforce

New York (Sept. 21, 2012) - Government, private industry, and academia need to work together to help educate a workforce that is both knowledgeable and skilled in cyber security, experts told attendees yesterday at New York Institute of Technology’s (NYIT) annual Cyber Security Conference.  At the same time, they emphasized the need to understand the context for security and how computer systems and people interact to better anticipate and protect against cyber attacks. 

Common themes at the conference, held at the NYIT Auditorium on Broadway, were reduced complexity in the security industry to help manage floods of data and ever-increasing connectivity between nations, and that emerging threats to cyber security are both technological and behavioral. In his keynote address, Neal Ziring, Technical Director, Information Assurance Directorate, National Security Agency (NSA), noted that cyber attackers are exploiting a broad spectrum of non-traditional targets, including government, commercial, and academic institutions, and that unity in responding to attacks is critical to the future of cyber defense.

The driving force behind the conference is to “convene top experts on the most pervasive and rather dangerous inventions of our time, including the internet, social media, mobile devices, and the cloud,” said Nada Marie Anid, Ph.D., dean of NYIT’s School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, which offers a concentration in network security for computer science and information technology majors in addition to a master’s program in internet security.

Several speakers emphasized the importance and vulnerability of the human touch relating to cyber security. Steven Greenspan, Ph.D., Senior Vice President at CA Technologies, noted that “software must complement human decision-making” in network security operations.  But as new technologies emerge enabling greater connectivity, the nature of cyber threats to individuals and enterprises changes as well. Jack Danahy, Director of Advanced Security at IBM noted, “Our internetworking has caused us to be permeable. He also warned that the internet is present at all times and “open to intrusion” on our smart phones and in our pockets.” Rajesh Goel, Chief Technical Officer and Co-Founder of Brainlink, and an NYIT alumnus, noted that “our cyber security problem is not a technology problem, it’s a human problem,” as people need to understand that information published via social media channels is not private. 

Speakers acknowledged the challenges of defending against cyber attacks and also offered practical advice.  Michael A. Davis, CEO, Savid Technologies, noted that the costs required to be defensive against threats is high but necessary, while the “cost of being offensive is so low for attackers.”  Several warned of the vigilance required for application security; John Leo, Jr., an agent in the New York field office of the FBI, who last year warned against Occupy Wall Street, stressed that attackers can have full access to private networks if apps are not secure. 

Global issues were raised as well. John F. Kimmins, Executive Director/Fellow, Applied Communication Sciences, spoke to information and communication technology in an era of globalization and the impacts on supply chain management. Wil van Gemert, Director of Cyber Security for the  Netherlands Ministry of Justice and Safety, described the international landscape as "land, sea, air, space - cyber is the fifth battlefield."
 
Faculty in the NYIT School of Engineering and Computing Sciences presented research on continuous user authentication, data mining, and secure cloud-aided computation, among other topics. NYIT’s School of Engineering and Computing Sciences has expanded its core of cyber security expertise through recent faculty hires that hold patents in network-centric attack detection, network switches, cryptography, biometrics, swarm intelligence, disease and pandemics tracking, privacy-preserving genomic computation, and health analytics.

A panel discussion on “21st Century Cyber Security Challenges and Opportunities” concluded the conference. Dr. Corby Hovis, Program Director of  the National Science Foundation, gave an overview of the foundation’s programs in support of cyber security education and moderated the panel featuring Neal Ziring of NSA; Daniel Stein, Program Analyst, National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security; and Lena Smart, Chief Information Security Officer, New York Power Authority.  According to Mr. Stein, formal education in cyber security “needs to incorporate experiential learning into cyber education” so that future employees are ready on day one of the job.  Lena Smart stressed the importance of securing the smart grid and disconnecting the systems controlling it completely from the internet.  

Conference sponsors included New York Power Authority, CA Technologies, IBM, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Power Management Concepts. For more information on the conference, speakers, and faculty research abstracts, visit nyit.edu/cybersecurity. 

About NYIT

New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 degree programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, in more than 50 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has 14,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
 
Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, more than 92,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit nyit.edu.


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