The School of Business' Symposium on Business Globalization: Managing the Cyber Security Challenge focused bringing together leaders in the field of cyber security and managing cyber threats in a global economy. The event featured panel discussions with cyber security experts and keynotes by acclaimed author and journalist, Dr. Fareed Zakaria, and former director of the CIA, General Michael Hayden.
The symposium kicked off with a brief overview of Mason’s new Master of Science in Management of Secure Information Systems launching this upcoming spring. The program is the only of its kind to be offered in the Washington, D.C., area and draws on the expertise of faculty members within Mason’s School of Business, School of Public Policy and the Volgenau School of Engineering.
Laying a foundation for the day’s conversations, David Burg, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), presented the perceptions and current state of information security in organizations around the world driven by results from the 2011 Global State of Information Security Survey. The results showed that 43% of the organizations surveyed described themselves as front runners in information security strategy. In reality, after being evaluated, only 13% were leading in their strategies. Burg emphasized a proactive approach to preparing for cyber threats by saying, “Sunshine overhead can be misleading. Preparation is key”.
Fareed Zakaria, host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN and Editor-at-Large of TIME, explored factors leading to the emergence of cyber attacks in his keynote. He attributed much of this to the technology boom and lack of cyber regulations. Zakaria said, “In the world we live in everybody is connected and nobody is in control”. Ending on a positive note, Zakaria urged attendees to not live in constant fear of cyber attacks. Similarly to Burg, he focused on preparation and encouraged companies to create simulations of attacks to help identify weaknesses in their strategies.
Gary Loveland, Head of IT Security Practice at PwC, delved into the pros and cons of cloud computing in his panel presentation. Panelists argued that while cloud computing was economically compelling it lacked clarity as to where data was located and set regulations. Cloud security could be seen as either a problem or an opportunity. However, creative chief information security officers are finding ways to leverage clouds as a positive tool in technology.
General Michael Hayden presented the keynote luncheon, Hayden is the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Mason’s School of Public Policy. General Hayden spoke about the effect of technology on communication as well as the increasingly larger role private companies are playing in the information security field. “Technology levels and democratizes the ability to communicate globally,” said General Hayden in commenting on the WikiLeaks incident. “WikiLeaks is the democratization of secure information.”
The symposium concluded with a panel discussion on cyber security threats to states and governments led by Frank B. Strickland, senior fellow at the IBM Center for the Business of Government. Panelists noted that while espionage is not a new development, technology has made it easier. They also spoke about the U.S. government’s need to always be prepared and vigilant for a “digital Pearl Harbor,” a surprise cyber attack by an outside government.