McAfee estimates that cybercrime costs the global economy $400 billion and impacts more than 40 million Americans each year. Who’s at risk? Industries. Governments. Individuals. Colleges and universities too.
Recently, FBI Special Agent Brian White addressed nearly 100 information technology representatives from a variety of U.S. business schools at the 12th Technology in Business Schools Roundtable, a conference hosted May 12-15 by the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business.
“A definitive statement about cyber-security is – it doesn’t work,” White said. “The whole paradigm of ‘I’m going to prevent someone from coming in’ goes out the door. Instead, you should ask, ‘How do I minimize risk, minimize the cost to the organization and how do I increase the cost to the adversary? There is no security; only varying levels of insecurity. You cannot prevent what you allow.”
What do cyber-thieves want?
“They want our intellectual property,” White said.
Intellectual property can be defined as government secrets, research that hasn’t been made public, or even data collected by large organizations housing personal records of its clientele, employees or students.
“Student records, medical records – they are of value to the adversary,” White said. “They contain birthdates and addresses. Adversaries can steal your identity and create lines of credit. This information is very valuable to criminals out there.”
One onlooker said, “I’ve got a faculty that will click on anything.”
White, who noted that “people are the weakest link,” suggested that individuals perform such tasks as online banking at a specific computer, then “surf the web” on another computer. “When something becomes inconvenient for you -- it becomes a problem for security,” he said.
“We have ideas how you can increase the cost of adversaries to go somewhere else. What do they want? You have to figure out what these hotspots are and begin putting things in place to monitor them. You have to learn more about what they are doing and put things in place to corrupt what is going out. Increase the cost to them so they will go somewhere else. Anything you can do to make it more difficult for the adversary to get to is a good thing. You’re not going to get to 100 percent safe.”
White also encouraged business travelers to be wary of public WiFi. “You are sending your username and password across a network.”
The Technology in Business Schools Roundtable brought representatives from 65 business schools, including such as Wharton (University of Pennsylvania) and Smeal (Penn State) to Auburn to better understand how to apply technology through a variety of professionally-led sessions. The conference included sessions dedicated to helping faculty support students with special needs, the future of audio/visual, classroom pedagogy, and big data among others.