Kathy Welsh

Kathy Welsh

PLEASANTVILLE – Business, government and our major healthcare and academic institutions have not invested enough time or money in protecting the massive amounts of sensitive data they have collected, said experts gathered recently at Pace University for a major conference on cybersecurity issues.

The Business Council of Westchester and Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems held the half-day conference entitled CyberStorm-Cybersecurity in Business: Emerging Threats & Innovative Solutions to discuss the growing threat our nation faces from cybercriminals.

From left, Dan Lansen, Partner, Compufit LLC; BCW President and CEO Marsha Gordon; Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance; Pace University President Marvin Krislov; John Habermann, Senior VP, BankUnited; and Jonathan Hill, Dean of Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. Photo provided

National experts such as Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and Information Systems expert Brigadier General Timothy T. Lunderman, as well as IT experts from major corporations like IBM, Johnson & Johnson and Mastercard weighed in on this complex topic.

Lunderman, who has many years of experience in Air Force intelligence, likened the current state of affairs to a war where the combatants are increasingly skilled at attacking vulnerabilities that are not being well protected. He said as in war, the defenders need to determine the “key terrain” and protect that rather than focus on protecting all their data because there is so much.

“If I was a bank, the money might be the key terrain,’’ said Lunderman, who currently serves as Special Assistant to the Director of Air National Guard for Headquarters Air Force, Chief Information Dominance and Chief Information Officer. “Focus on what makes the business run.’’

Vance, who has rapidly established his office as a national leader in the fight against cybercrime and identify theft, described the rise in cybercrime as “staggering,” accounting for more than a third of all felony cases handled by his office. “The way we used to deal with cybercrime is not going to cut it anymore,” he said, noting that his office is placing greater emphasais on prevention of cyber crime. As Manhattan DA, Vance opened a $10 million cyber lab last year where more than 75 prosecutors, investigators and analysts work together sharing information with law enforcement offices in London and Paris. Vance is also co-founder of the Global Cyber Alliance, a non-profit, cross sector coalition focused on reducing digital vulnerablity. The Alliance has grown to include 170 partners in more than 20 countries. “I’m not sure our country understands how serious this threat is,” he warned.

Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester, said the BCW teamed up with Pace to hold the conference because cybersecurity is of growing concern to its business membership. “We hear from businesses all the time about cybersecurity threats,’’ said Gordon.

Jonathan Hill, dean of Pace’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems Hill said Pace University held the conference to highlight its position as one of the top schools in the nation for training experts to detect and eliminate incursions that are threatening to derail governments and industry. Pace University’s Seidenberg School was designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, one of only two Centers in the New York metropolitan area.

The Equifax data breach has been a wakeup call to businesses about how lax security can end in disaster for the consumer and the company. The massive data breach at Equifax announced last month exposed the personal information of as many as 143 million consumers and rocked the stock market as the company’s stock plummeted. Further disclosures that hackers had roamed freely through the company’s database since March but went undetected until July, and that Equifax kept this a secret until September, unleashed a major backlash and an FBI investigation.

Just two weeks ago the SEC announced that it too had been hacked and that a database of filings made by thousands of public companies and other financial firms regulated by the SEC had been exposed. The National Security Agency followed with revelations that there had been intrusions in its data base.

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