Merriam Webster defines the word CYBER as relating to, or involving computers or computer networks (such as the Internet). Cybersecurity refers to a set of techniques used to protect the integrity of these networks, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access. The core functionality of cybersecurity involves protecting our information and systems from major breaches in security or cyber threats. More and more, hackers are finding new ways to threaten and attack our networks and are creating and refining the tools that they use to break through the cyber defenses that are in place to protect our data, social networks and systems such as power grids, voting machines, etc.
The cyberattack on the Equifax credit reporting agency in 2017, that led to the theft of Social Security numbers, birth dates, and additional data on almost half the U.S. population, was a scary realization that hackers are targeting enormous numbers of people…..daily.
Recent news makes it clear that Russian hackers targeted voting systems in several American states before the 2016 presidential election. So many of us were shocked to realize that up to 87 million Facebook users had their personal data ending up in the hands of a voter-profiling company called Cambridge Analytica. We learned directly from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, that Facebook itself methodically scrutinizes and keeps track of the particulars of its users’ daily online lives…… details that people often readily volunteer — age, employer, relationship status, likes and location, etc. AND can learn almost anything about users by using artificial intelligence to analyze online behavior.
Lucky for all of us, there are brilliant men and women all over the world working to not only protect us now, but also predict and protect us from future threats. Right here at Carnegie Mellon University, The world-renowned CyLab Security and Privacy Institute approaches security and privacy research with a cross-disciplinary, holistic mindset. Experts here think beyond the traditional boundaries of pure engineering and computer science solutions to big problems. They look further into the human factors that make security and privacy usable as well as the economics and social sciences behind the decisions people make with technology. Just as importantly, they must understand the policy ideas that power the network safety of our private and public enterprises. They know that security and privacy affects every aspect of daily life, from a technician safeguarding the resiliency of a city’s electric grid to a small child learning to read watching videos on an iPad. This issue affects each and every one of us.
Thankfully, we talk with one of the world’s most respected leaders on this subject on today’s episode. Dr. Douglas Sicker is the Director of CMU’s Cylab Security and Privacy Institute, Department Head of Engineering and Public Policy, the Lord Endowed Chair of Engineering and Professor in the College of Engineering School of Computer Science, as well as Heinz College.