Updates - NYIT Office of the President
Opening Remarks at 2013 Cyber Security Conference
Sep 19 2013

President Guiliano delivered opening remarks at the university's annual cyber security conference to an assembled group of experts from the security industry, government, and academia to foster dialogue and developments around increasingly complex challenges faced by the cyber security community. A number of NYIT students also were in attendance.


Good morning everyone, and welcome.

Let’s talk pirates.

You remember pirates:  thieves with special equipment — ships — and special savvy — how to run them. And since they worked on the trackless sea, they were hard to find.

Maybe this sounds familiar.

But what you may not know is today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  Really.  What a world.

So, “Ahoy, me hearties!” I am not sure what you are supposed to say now, I am a little rusty on pirate-speak.

Whatever the greeting, it’s a great pleasure to welcome you to NYIT. And to see so many familiar faces as well as greet new friends.

In the movies, pirates are easy to spot. They wear bandannas and eye patches, and parrots sit on their shoulders.

The pirates we fight today  are just the opposite. They wear invisibility cloaks.

As you know, we recently caught a spambot king. At any moment, he could be sending out a third of all spam on earth. And who did he turn out to be? A guy in St. Petersburg, sitting in front of the screen all day in his pajamas.  So he is the guy who was flooding his neighbors and us with ads for little blue pills.

Spam is an annoyance, and a very costly one, nearing $20 billion annually for U.S. businesses and consumers. But real threats lie out there. And we are here to  guard against them.

Each year this conference gets a little bigger and more important. And some of the dangers are greater than those Q and Double-oh-Seven saved the world from.

The world runs on credit. When people get afraid, credit freezes and the whole economy buckles. We saw that in 2008. And as you know, this summer the U.S. indicted five hackers for stealing 160 million credit card numbers. A tenth of our nation’s total.

It’s alarming to hear that over half the world’s stock markets said cyber-criminals had attacked them in the past year. So far no one has broken into trading systems in the U.S., and some of you in the audience may deserve the praise for it.

We also face threats to future technology, the innovations that drive the U.S. economy.

For instance, where is digital cash?

Who wouldn’t want a self-driving car? They can ease traffic jams, save lives, and let people play Angry Birds during their commute. But in theory — and maybe not just in theory — that spammer in St. Petersburg can carjack you. If a phantom can start driving the car, the market may slow.

Smart homes are now a billion-and-a-half-dollar market and growing. We live right inside an intelligent system. And we can see it and control it from anywhere.

But hackers give “home invasion” a whole new meaning. They can break in, and since even the best wi-fi locks can be cracked…they can see us, through TVs and webcams. Big Brother won’t be watching us; it’ll be some programmer in North Korea. They can vandalize us, by letting food spoil in the digital refrigerator. Lights can flick on and off. We can live in haunted houses.

Medical devices put intelligence inside our very organs. But already on TV shows, hackers have turned pacemakers deadly. The FDA says 300 other implants are at risk, such as defibrillators and insulin pumps. Even if police know the modus operandi, how do they find the killer? Maybe some of you have ideas, and if so, I’ll bet Hollywood could use them in future episodes.

Maybe the producers of TV’s Homeland have already talked to you.

And speaking of “homeland,” as in security, I think we’re having a very timely conference.

Most people know about the Syrian Electronic Army. Many of you know a great deal about it.

They attack newspaper sites. As if papers didn’t have enough trouble. They attacked The Onion, the satirical news organization, which is like attacking the class clown.

But as the chance of a strike against Syria rose, over Labor Day they hacked a U.S. Marine Corps website. It was a message.

Syria is about the size of a dime. It’s no bigger than North Dakota and it has fewer people than Texas. The United States is the strongest military power in history. We make Napoleon look like a warrior with a funny hat waving a spear.

And yet — the Syrian Electronic Army threatened to attack us.

We all know the danger. The U.S. has 5,800 major power plants and 450,000 miles of transmission lines, and many tightly-linked digital networks. Bring it all down and you turn off the operating system of the United States. It’s lights out.

That hasn’t happened yet in history, and I suspect it’s because of some of you.

So, we at NYIT are always very pleased to host this conference, spur dialogue, and collaborate. In fact, we are planning to take this conference on the road next spring to our campus in Abu Dhabi.  You are all invited on March 24th.

Ever since universities began in the late Middle Ages, they have brought well-informed people together. We are continuing that tradition, but on issues more urgent than anything known back then.

The world of cyber-security seems different with every conference. A year ago no one had heard of Edward Snowden; by next year, new violations may be on people’s lips. And that’s all the more reason to hold these gatherings. We always have more to discuss, and try to resolve.

At NYIT, we are training students to join your ranks — in programs like our master’s in Information, Network, and Computer Security, as well as a concentration in Internet Security for computer science and information technology majors.  In fact, we recently received ministry permission to offer our Masters in Computer Security at our Vancouver site.

As you know all too well, cyber security is a global issue, since information flows instantly. And we are a global university. We focus worldwide, on both the problems and opportunities everywhere.  

Faculty in our School of Engineering and Computing Sciences have won prestigious research grants in biometrics, swarm intelligence, cryptography, mobile, and cyber security generally.

Today we may all talk like pirates — or we may not — but we’ll certainly be talking as anti-pirates.

We look forward to a lively day. We have terrific presentations and discussions. The topics are deep and the speakers are engaging.

And it’s great to see you all assembled here. Welcome, and enjoy your day!

Thank you.


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