Experts at Virginia Tech Capitol Hill panel agree that cybersecurity solutions are top priority as threats increase
“We live in a world where a growing number of interconnected devices that are meant to make our lives easier, if not properly secured, can also be used against us. This is why our nation’s cybersecurity must be one of our top priorities and Congress has an important role to play to ensure that is the case,” said Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman for the U.S. Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence and cofounder of the Bipartisan Senate Cybersecurity Caucus.
Warner was the keynote speaker at a roundtable of experts, convened by Virginia Tech on Capitol Hill last week to discuss cyberthreats and cybersecurity.
Panelists included Charles Clancy, director, Virginia Tech Hume Center for National Security and Technology; Karen Evans, national director, U.S. Cyber Challenge, and former chief information officer, U.S. federal government; Russ Housley, board member, Internet Architecture, and former chair, Internet Engineering task force; Richard Puckett, vice president, Security Operations, Strategy and Architecture, Thomson-Reuters; Steve Ryan, partner, McDermott Will & Emery LLP; and Teresa Shea, executive vice president and director, Cyber Reboot Lab, In-Q-Tel, and former director of Signals Intelligence and Cyber Operations at the National Security Agency.
Virginia Tech President Tim Sands introduced former Congressman Jim Moran, professor of practice at the School of Public and International Affairs, who led the discussion as news of Russian cyber leaks and attacks continues to swirl.
Russian hacking in the 2016 election, recent leaks of U.S. intelligence cyber tools, vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and the Internet of Things, and cybersecurity workforce development were all part of the conversation.
“The issue of cybersecurity is only going to grow exponentially,” Warner said.
In 2015, Congress passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act to increase the amount of threat information shared between the federal government and industry.
“On average, an American office worker sends and receives 120 emails every day. Most are vulnerable to exposure if targeted by a sophisticated hacker. The Pentagon gets 10 million cyberattacks every day. Clearly, cyber warfare is a threat to our national security, even our way of life,” said Moran.
Puckett suggested that the explosion in the number of internet-connected devices, known as the Internet of Things, is an important consideration when tackling issues of cybersecurity. “Not all devices are upgradable, making them vulnerable to attack,” Puckett said.
Shea cited a need for more consumer education. Every individual needs to be part of the fight against hacking, she said.
“There are three things we all need to do -- use multifactor authentication, back up data, and never click on questionable links,” Shea said.
Clancy addressed the need for increasing the number of cybersecurity professionals entering key fields.
“Virginia Tech professors and researchers are working at the intersection of cybersecurity technology and policy to address ever-emerging threats to our nation’s critical infrastructure and citizens' privacy. Our goal is to not only address current and future research challenges, but to educate students to develop the workforce that our country is going to need moving forward,” said Clancy.