Cyber-Security Demands Strong Offense
November 28 — Cyber-crime has moved from the big time to the petty. While the average cost of a data breach is $4 million, it’s the small targets that bring best returns.
Wes McGrew, director of Cyber Operations for HORNE Cyber in Starkville, explained that broad assaults on many computers are turning a tidy profit. Millions of attacks for low dollar data ransom are more likely to get results since they cost more to fight than to pay.
Small and midsized enterprises account for 62 percent of cyber-attacks because they usually have less sophisticated IT security. Costs include lost business, direct damage, legal expenses, forensic examinations and credit monitoring for customers.
With an MSU computer sciences PhD, McGrew is known as a leading expert in offensive information security through penetration testing, network vulnerability analysis, exploit development, reverse engineering of malicious software and network traffic analysis.
Malicious programs now spread autonomously, so it is important to keep operating systems and antivirus software up-to-date. However, he said the days of data decryption through malware protection programs such as Norton Antivirus are coming to an end as the intruding software gets more sophisticated.
Cyber-security is broadly defined by technologies and processes designed to protect from unauthorized access, vulnerabilities and attacks. The term was coined by science fiction authors then taken on by the U.S. government and military. Cyber-attacks are now considered as another domain of warfare along with air, land and sea battles.
McGrew stressed that since more devices are becoming networked, the field of targets is growing rapidly. Everything from telephones to TV remotes to refrigerators that are controlled by microprocessors are vulnerable. “Cyber” describes the communication channels used by all these devices
As the world moves to cloud computing, the outlook is for attacks to increase in number and sophistication. Just over the weekend, he reported, the San Francisco transit system was hacked.
Political events will continue to shape the cyber-threat environment. There’s been a lot of influence by foreign nation-states on our election process.
Beyond political considerations are developing nations’ interests in stealing intellectual property and spying on business processes such as bidding. Many governments are funding programs for business benefits.
McGrew underlined the talent/skills crisis facing American businesses because it is hard to find people who can understand the situation. A good IT staff can keep a business running, but is fully employed. Usually, this calls for third party help to test, secure and monitor systems.
HORNE Cyber provides such service by penetrating its clients’ systems to find vulnerabilities. Services include education, IT asset inventories, IT policies and procedures, custom application development, data encryption and disaster recovery.
McGrew emphasized that the key problems are the human factors of carelessness, ignorance or a desire to be helpful. Most security and data breaches begin with social engineering where users of a system are manipulated to reveal critical information.
He said, “Data can be gone in 60 seconds, but discovery and response takes weeks or months of investigation.”
Cyber-crime costs are projected to reach $2 trillion by 2019. However, most cyber risks are hidden. Among the areas requiring vigilance are production facilities and equipment, connected medical devices, personnel security and camera systems, and telephone and video conferencing systems.
For the Record—November 28
Invocation and Pledge: Russell Dodds
Present — 104 (44 exempt)
Absent — 76 (17 exempt, 12 honorary)
Guests: Visiting Rotarian was Bill Walker from Columbus. Member guest was Jordan Gillentine of Cory Lucius. Guests of the club were Brittany and Penny Benoist, and Elisa Malzanni, RYE student.
Mississippi Business Development
Glenn McCullough is the executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority. Stuart Vance will introduce him.
Next Week: GRAMMIES in Mississippi
Emily Havens is the executive director of the new GRAMMY Museum in Cleveland, Miss. Joe Thompson will introduce her.
- President Briar noted that Salvation Army bell-ringers still were needed for Dec. 7 and 13 at Walmart.
- Nancy Hargrove, RYE committee member, presented Brittany Benoist as the exchange prospect of the week. The Starkville Academy junior has a 97.9 GPA, is a member of the National Honor Society and has placed first in the past two MAIS state science fairs.
Rotary Foundation Recognitions
In a fitting conclusion to Rotary Foundation Month, District Governor-elect Bill Walker presented Past-President Zach Rowland with our club’s banner marking 100 percent participation in annual giving of $100 per member in 2015-2016.
Then he recognized Mark Guyton for attaining his Paul Harris Fellowship+6. Nellah Taylor and Larry Mullins of the Annual Giving/Foundation Committee led the presentation. Each stone in a PHF pin represents $1,000 or accumulated points in foundation giving.
Board Meeting Rescheduled
This month’s board of directors meeting is rescheduled for Dec. 15 at Harvey’s Boardroom.