How to prepare for unforeseen cyber threats

Indian American engineers host Cyber Security Summit on the theme of ‘Because everyone needs to be secure’

One can’t always predict a cyber threat. But one can prepare! So suggested a group of experts at a virtual Cybersecurity Summit hosted by the American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI).

With growing incidents of ransomware, malware, cyber warfare and hacking posing serious challenges at personal and organizational levels, the underlying theme of the May 21 summit was “Because everyone needs to be secure,” according to ASEI release.

The summit was co-chaired and kicked off by ASEI national president Piyush Malik, chief digital & transformation officer at Veridic solutions and Bhawna Singh, a senior vice president of engineering at cybersecurity vendor Okta and a recent ASEI Engineer of the Year awardee.

Read: Indian American engineers take a leap into the future (February 7, 2022)

“We are so often – and rightly so – focused on so many different aspects of our own universe that we fail to realize the potential of the different viewpoints and the power of ecosystem that thrives around us, and one has to build own cybersecurity posture in your organizations,” said Malik.

Leading voices representing the cybersecurity industry – from cyber industry innovators to emerging technology startups to government and company board representatives joined the discussions.

ASEI co-chairs started the discussion by setting the context, sharing the what and why of cybersecurity and the threat landscape.

Some eye-opening statistics relating to cybercrime were presented:
– 59% of Americans report they have experienced cybercrime or in some way fallen into the hands of a computer hacker
– 70% of small businesses are completely unprepared for a cyber attack
– 88% of professional hackers can infiltrate an organization within 12 hours.

With nearly $7 trillion lost to cybercrime globally per Center for Cybercrime and Security, it is important to make cybersecurity a priority in organizations, experts said.

In his keynote, titled “Enabling Engineers to Build a Secure Future”, Ankur Shah from Palo Alto Networks talked about Security supply chains being the new targets by malicious actors.

He gave tips to the engineers in the community to “move fast, build great things and make sure everything is secure”. One small vulnerability in infrastructure-as-code at the repository level can lead to thousands of problems and hence the cost to remedy rises exponentially downstream.

Moderated by Invigrid CEO Yogita Parulekar, the first panel discussion focussed on the daunting talent gap in the growing cyber security space with panelists Chirag Shah from Model N, Nataraj. Nagaratnam CTO IBM Security & Laxmish Bhat, President iZen.

With 80% of recent security breaches attributed to skills gap with 38% losing over a $1 million each, the speakers shared what their companies were doing.

IBM has introduced Cybersecurity as part of the award winning public-private P-Tech program for high schoolers and iZen has come up with an intelligent edtech solution accelerating cybersecurity knowledge for universities and organizations alike with or without internet access.

Read: Take a flight into the future with Indian American engineers (January 10, 2022)

Aastha Verma, former President at ASEI Washington DC chapter, spoke next about CISA and its initiatives in ethical hacking to protect the homeland.

As department of homeland security’s (DHS) CISA Branch Chief for Vulnerabilities, she shared a lot of resources to help the audience understand how the government and public can work hand in hand to curb the cyber risks. To cite a couple, she shared “Shields up” and “Presidents Cup” initiatives which are all available to the population via CISA website.

The Women in Cybersecurity panel was led by Chitra Dharmarajan with panelists Rupa Mittapalli from IBM, Upasna Saluja from AT&T and Anusha Vaidhyanathan from Zscalar.

They shared amazing life transformation stories of how they got into the industry and what keeps them going in applying scientific method to cyber risk management and protection from cyberthreats.

Jyothsna Lekkala from Zoom talked about Software Supply Chain Security and how it has evolved from physical to software more so since the 9/11 attacks.

Agas Somasundaram talked about why IOT security is important and how can we protect ourselves from breaches occurring in these seemingly harmless devices.

The power packed Geopolitical panel moderated by ‘Cybersecurity for PM’ author Niharika Srivastav addressed the role of cybersecurity in the current geopolitical instability caused by threats from Russia-Ukraine war as well as increasing use of rouge-nation backed deliberate sabotage and highly sophisticated cyberwar attacks.

The panelists Rita Archrekar – Board director at ICICI bank, Anshu Gupta – CISO at Silicon Valley based SVCI and Vishal Chawla, a senior partner at PWC brought in their rich and specialized point of view from their observations and experiences.

Read: ASEI’s engaging Cyber Security Summit brings 20 thought leaders together (May 27, 2022)

The Cybersecurity summit closing keynote on Insider threats, Information Sharing with Entity Resolution and Privacy by Design came from former IBM Fellow Jeff Jonas,

Beaming in from France, he talked about how technologies he invented like Non Obvious Relationships Awareness (NORA) have led him to detect and protect the Las Vegas Casinos from millions of dollars of fraud.

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