“After the Breach” Tackles Cyberrisk

Threats to cybersecurity are pervasive, insidious and seemingly unavoidable. Despite this grim outlook, DePaul continues to take steps to educate students and the general public about cyberattacks, including what can be done to prevent or rectify these online assaults. To stay abreast of these trends, read “Cybersecurity in the Information Age” in DePaul Magazine, check out a recap of “After the Breach: The First Annual DePaul University Cyberrisk Conference” below and watch the conference’s keynote address.

Peter W. Singer, who was included in Foreign Policy Magazine’s list of the top 100 global thinkers, has a soft, gentle voice that belies the gravity of the message he brings. The strategist and senior fellow at the New America Foundation charmed as the keynote speaker at DePaul’s first cyberrisk conference in December 2014.

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“After the Breach,” sponsored by DePaul’s Arditti Center for Risk Management, Center for Financial Services and the College of Computing and Digital Media, featured expert panels and scenario-based breakout sessions designed to help business executives, their employees and individuals deal with cyberattacks. During his speech, Singer offered a sober, yet hopeful, message about the risks that companies, countries and individuals face when it comes to cyberattacks and cyberterrorism.

“Every single second, nine new pieces of malware are discovered,” Singer said. “Ninety-seven percent of Fortune 500 companies have admitted they’ve been hacked. The other three percent have [also] been hacked—they just haven’t admitted it yet.”

Even with the risk asserted, Singer spent most of his speech debunking popular myths about cyberrisk. His goal was to help the audience focus their efforts and resources on areas where cyberattacks are truly lurking. “I like to joke that cyberterrorism is a lot like Discovery Channel’s Shark Week,” Singer said to much laughter. “We obsess about the dangers of sharks, even though you are roughly 15,000 times more likely to be injured or killed in an accident involving your toilet.”

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Singer also addressed the threat of cyberterrorism. “We still have not yet had a cyberterrorist incident,” he noted. “I’m not saying that terrorists don’t use the Internet. They definitely use the Internet, but we need to distinguish between using something to communicate or [collect] information [and] causing a physical impact.”

Far more real, Singer noted, was the routine theft of intellectual property that occurs in cyberspace, a theft he called “the largest theft in all of human history.” This kind of theft can be devastating to a company’s bottom line.

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Conference attendees appreciated the practical focus on cybersecurity and cyberrisk throughout the daylong conference. “The panels were informative and the conference was quite good overall,” said Stephanie Besser, a cyberrisk consultant to Fortune 500 companies. “It made me proud of the work I do.”

For more information on cyberhacking, check out this infographic of statistics.

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