Sep 16 2011
New York, N.Y. (Sept. 16, 2011) – Companies, government agencies, and non-profit groups need to cooperate to stay ahead of increasingly powerful networks of cyber criminals, a group of experts told an audience at this week’s Cyber Security Conference at New York Institute of Technology.
A recurring theme at the conference, held at the NYIT Auditorium on Broadway, was that cyber security is a “shared responsibility.” Thomas Smith, J.D., director of New York State’s Office of Cyber Security, called for more government policies to protect individuals and organizations. Smith added that these crimes affect everyone, not just IT professionals.
Nada Anid, Ph.D., dean of NYIT’s School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, predicted that the conference will nurture talents, inspire collaborations among sectors, and educate the next generation of professionals to meet the needs of the cyber security field.
FBI agents John Leo and Jordan Loyd named hacktivists – individuals who hack systems to draw attention to a particular issue – as newly emerging threats to U.S. information systems. As an example, Leo and Loyd cited this weekend’s scheduled “Occupy Wall Street.” Virtual organizers are using sites like Facebook and Twitter to call for peaceful protests on Wall Street on Sept. 17 for corporate and government change. The agents said they have been monitoring the event on cyberspace and are preparing to meet it with physical security.
Kevin O’Connell, president and CEO of Innovative Analytics and Training, warned of what are known as advanced persistent threats. He compared them to “bad neighborhoods.” An expert in national security and intelligence matters, the former analyst in the White House explained that these kinds of threats attack networks to steal data and tend to remain undetected for a long period of time.
Jeff Crume, IBM’s Distinguished Engineer and IT Security Architect, told the audience that sometimes individuals can thwart hackers by taking common-sense measures. Crume said too many office employees keep passwords on yellow Post-It notes tacked around their computer screens, which he jokingly referred to as the “PC sunflower.”
Crume noted that anyone can be a victim. “Even if you run the Internet, you can still be hacked,” he added, referring to a network breach in Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fan page earlier this year.
Gary Morse, president and founder of Razorpoint Security Technologies, said some governments around the world have a financial incentive to ignore hackers. “Cybercrime has become, in no uncertain terms, part of the GDP for certain countries,” he said during his lunch presentation.
Several speakers raised concerns about security as cloud and mobile computing become more widespread.
Cloud computing offers the most opportunity for research and development since it is relatively new, said Kenneth Brancik, Ph.D., managing director of Northrop Grumman's Cyber Security Research Consortium (NGCRC).
Paul Stirpe, Ph.D., co-founder of Letse, LLC, recommended combining different types of clouds, such as public, private, and hybrid clouds, as a safer way to store data.
Meanwhile, Timothy Brown, senior vice president, chief security architect, and distinguished engineer at CA Technologies' Security Business, noted that consumers are interconnected through multiple devices. He described how new threats may jump from one device to the next – infecting phones, iPads, and TVs, in addition to computers.
Gustavo de los Reyes, Ph.D., executive director of technology security at AT&T, said the Internet must change, just as devices and threats are changing. Krishan Sabnani, Ph.D., senior vice president of networking and research laboratory at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, added that the Internet’s architecture has not been significantly updated since its conception.
Ayat Jafari, Ph.D., associate dean of the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, called for a coordinated effort across disciplines to be able to meet the challenges ahead. He also identified opportunities for students to get involved in the field of cyber security.
NYIT faculty presented research on various topics including network forensics, security and energy efficiency of cloud systems, cryptography, medical terminologies and electronic health records, keystroke authentication systems, wireless sensor networks, and security network architecture for monitoring patients in hospitals or nursing homes.
A vigorous panel discussion wrapped up the conference with participants calling for a balance of privacy and security as cloud computing becomes more popular. The panel, moderated by Stirpe, included Nasir Memon, Ph.D., professor at NYU-Poly; Raj Goel (NYIT, B.S. '94), CTO and co-founder of Brainlink International, Inc.; Tom Bianculli, senior director of the emerging business office at Motorola, and Gregory Conti, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at United States Military Academy.
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