Arlington Economic Development sponsored a South by Southwest (SXSW) panel that brought together the leading experts in cybersecurity to discuss how hackers are causing chaos for business and government — breaking into systems for personal or political gains. The panel featured Jason Chen of Mach37, Ann Cox of the Department of Homeland Security, Robert Johnston of Adlumin and Jennifer O’Daniel from Center for Innovative Technology.
The panelists covered a wide variety of topics from the biggest risk to your average consumer (stealing your bank account), to how the government can deter other nations from hacking our systems, to how to get more women into cybersecurity.
In regard to cyberwarfare, Johnston said the playing field has a much lower barrier to entry than with traditional warfare. In traditional warfare, we’ve often relied on deterrents like having more military power. “For deterrents, very few countries can bring what the U.S. can as far as military power, but in the cyberworld those cost barriers aren’t there. Many countries can attack the U.S. via cyberattacks, so diplomacy and economic sanctions are the most effective. deterrents." However, Johnston noted these tactics are only successful some of the time, such as when there’s some parity between nations, such as Obama’s efforts to rein in Chinese hacking.
Cox discussed how small cybersecurity businesses can play a key role in protecting the U.S. from cyber threats. “Every part of the federal government has a small business set aside that can help startups and the government work together. Great cybersecurity software has been developed through this program,” said Cox. For example, attribution is an enormous problem in social media and if we could get rid of spoof traffic that would be huge. DHS funded a program where you can test your own system to see if you are letting spoof traffic into your network.
Chen says he is most concerned about how to encourage more women into the cybersecurity field. “A diversity of thought is key to solving problems,” he said. “If the group of people solving problems is too homogeneous then you are going to miss things.” He also said it’s important for companies to always stay one step ahead of cybercriminals by staying on top of key trends. AI and machine learning are allowing companies to automate many of their systems and understand their risks better, but the cybercriminals have the same technology.