Getting Up to Speed on Data Protection at Data Summit 2017

Against the backdrop of WannaCry ransomware attacks targeting mission-critical computer systems globally, Data Summit 2017 presented the Data Security Forum, moderated by Michelle Malcher, security architect, Extreme Scale Solutions.

During a session on the emerging threat landscape, Robert Pearl, president, Pearl Knowledge Solutions, explored the steps to take to avoid having data compromised.

“The intersection of the physical and digital world continued to deepen in 2016,” noted Pearl, during his presentation titled, “Securing Your Data from Emerging Cyber Threats."

“The adoption of network connected devices — the Internet of Things — accelerated and was expected to reach nearly 5 billion devices by the end of the year,” said Pearl. Noting that we are living in the shadow of “WannaCry,” which is perhaps the biggest ransomware attack in history, Pearl pronounced, “Our nation is under attack.”

Every day, thousands of entities — private enterprises, public institutions and individual citizens—have their computer networks breached, their systems hacked and their data stolen, degraded or destroyed, he noted.  Such critical infrastructure impacts the cyber-sanctity of our banking system and electric power grid, each vital to our national security.

Citing trends that put businesses and individuals at more risk than ever before, Pearl noted that today, individuals are forced to completely give up tremendous amounts of data in take-it-or-leave-it policies that make privacy loss the price of convenience, while a growing preference for mobile devices over desktop devices means people have become walking, trackable “intellectual property assets.”

Pearl offered 8 tips to help keep data safe:

  1. Always use & update anti-virus and internet security software
  2. Firewalls blocking unwanted & unauthorized traffic
  3. Block tracking cookies, and delete cookies regularly
  4. Apply software updates and patches as needed!
  5. Upgrade to latest versions (OS, Apps, SQL, etc.)
  6. Use back-up systems that you control (such as external hard drives) – backup personal data too.
  7. Don't send personal data via email
  8. Be aware of Phishing (email) Scams

In order to secure tomorrow, new approaches and tactical guidance are needed more than ever before to thwart information theft and espionage that shows no sign of abating, said Pearl. Companies need to focus on educating their employees about security issues — teaching them about the dangers of phishing, unencrypted data and slow response and reactions. Training employees can turn a worker into a security asset, capable of helping detect threats, rather than a liability.

In addition, cyber deterrence may require the concurrent use of political, economic, diplomatic, and military tools with the realistic goal not to stop attacks entirely, but instead to reduce the volatility and intensity of cyber operations in future conflicts.

Many conference presentations have been made available by speakers at