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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Spooked by Cybercrime? You should be

It’s a scary time, and not just because Halloween is upon us.

Those in the cybersecurity world, like technology expert Dave Hatter (who is also the Mayor of Fort Wright) have been sounding the alarm for years.  “Cybersecurity is a top issue for our entire community.” said Hatter.   “We need to do more to protect ourselves.  With a seemingly endless stream of increasingly sophisticated attacks, none of us feel safe at the moment.”

Consider these statistics.
- 32% of companies said they were the victims of cybercrime in 2016.
- 65% of professionals identified phishing and social engineering as the biggest security threat to their organization.
- The average time attackers stay hidden on a network is over 140 days.
- Ransomware attacks have risen 250% this year (much higher than previous predictions), while global ransomware damages are predicted to exceed $5 billion.

Scared yet?

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Years ago the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declared October to be National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM).

According to the DHS, this annual campaign exists to “raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. The Internet touches almost all aspects of everyone’s daily life, whether we realize it or not. National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners through events and initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity, provide them with tools and resources needed to stay safe online, and increase the resiliency of the Nation in the event of a cyber incident.”

NCSAM is a time to remind ourselves that we need to enhance our processes and procedures, dedicate more resources to protecting ourselves, and continuously invest the time in education and training.

To do all this, we need more cyber security expertise.  A joint report from Cybersecurity Ventures and Herjavec Group reported that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021.

Thankfully,  our local universities understand how scary a time it is and are working hard to fill the gap.

Fittingly, ‘Who you gonna call?’ was the rhetorical question posed by keynote speaker, Mikko Hypponen, at Northern Kentucky University’s recent Cybersecurity Symposium.

Mr. Hypponen, Chief Research Officer for F-Secure, is a world-renowned cybercrime expert who is also an avid collector of retro arcade and pinball games, one of which is Ghostbusters themed. It was the challenge to the audience of 400 plus technologists, business leaders and attorneys who are responsible for risk management and mitigation in their diverse organizations.

These technologists understand their businesses are dependent on secure data.

Therefore, secure data was the theme throughout the symposium’s six tracks which included legal issues in privacy and security, information security, governance and compliance, risk management, mobile and computer forensics, cyberops and emerging topics.

The need for secure data in every organization is driving the rising demand for cybersecurity professionals who can detect, prevent, mitigate and articulate threat information.

This is an important goal of NKU’s College of Informatics – to teach students to use a unified approach to tackle these realities more effectively.

Education and awareness are key to reducing cybersecurity risks, and the evolution of hands-on education recently took a major leap forward with the college’s innovative new Cyber Threat Intelligence Laboratory.

Primarily a 24-student learning studio for NKU students, the lab will also serve as a demonstration room for tours and field trips, a learning lab for corporate training classes, a practice space for the NKU Cyber Defense Team, and an inviting location for K12 cybersecurity camps.

According to Jill Henry, Executive Director of NKU’s Center for Applied Informatics,  “We are proud to be leading the charge on several fronts:  we cultivate students who are agile thinkers; we push the boundaries to create cutting-edge collaboration spaces; and we bring leaders together to engage in thought-provoking dialogue to navigate the ever-changing global landscape.”

As we bring the National Cyber Security Awareness Month to a close, I hope you’ll not only take a little time to enhance your security, I also hope you’ll support universities like NKU that are committed to improving our data security.

Together, we can make things a little less scary.

By Brent Cooper

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