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Despite challenges information security “not losing”

Posted By George Hulme, Friday, October 26, 2012

Despite the daunting amount of malware being generated, theft of intellectual property, and endless waves of attacks against public and private infrastructure, business and government are not losing these battles, said the recently retired senior cybersecurity adviser to President Obama, Howard A. Schmidt. "We keep hearing about how we are losing, but business and government are still running, using these electronic tools," Schmidt said. "The machine is still running."

But not without significant challenges, including malware being developed and targeting nearly every type of technology that we use today, from systems on the Internet, to critical infrastructure, and medical devices. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for what everyone in this room does everyday to keep systems secure," Schmidt said to a packed audience at today's opening keynote for Day Two at the ISSA International Conference. Despite the attacks and the difficultly "at the end of the day we still get done what needs to get done," he said.

"The people in this room are doing the real work. When it comes down to it, it's not some piece of legislation that get things done,"he said.

There is still much more work that needs to be done, especially as society grows increasingly dependent on information technology, and nefarious nation state activity increases. "We need to come to an understanding of what will be the operational norms in cyberspace,” he said. "While there is lots of talk about nation-state espionage, most nations don’t [historically] turn that over to their own private sector. However, today national espionage targeting the private sector is what’s really changed,” he said. 

That’s quite a shift in the threat landscape, from a number of years ago when most enterprises faced attacks that were predominately opportunistic criminals - not backed by the vast financial and technical resources of a nation-state. Therefore, going forward, success will require tight collaboration between both the public and the private sector. And he urged ISSA members to help educate the government about the urgency of the issue and what needs to be done to succeed. 

"If you aren't hearing from your government representatives about cyber security, go knock on their door,” Schmidt says. "It does influence their thinking, and we can really step up our game to make sure that they get it,” Schmidt said.

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