A cybersecurity expert cautioned against the dangers of the Internet in a Nov. 19 Morning Forum of Los Altos presentation, “The Challenges of Cybersecurity: National and Personal.”
Bill Coleman, chairman and CEO of the cybersecurity firm Resilient Systems Inc. and director of Business Executives for National Security, discussed how to protect computers and computer systems from unauthorized attacks.
According to Coleman, during the next 20 years, people’s lives will become even more dependent on the Internet. He said that while computers help in many aspects of our lives, the Internet can be scary. Without cybersecurity, he added, all privacy will be destroyed.
The Internet presently is not being used in the most secure way, Coleman said, which allows criminals to act with impunity as they obtain personal information. And threats are escalating, he noted.
“Our governments can’t protect us adequately because cyber attacks occur at network speed, while our defensive responses are at human speed,” he said.
Coleman said the U.S. is the most vulnerable and least protected country, because it depends heavily on the Internet and remains the biggest target.
“Many individuals and corporations do not have state-of-the-art security systems,” he said. “The public lacks awareness of the immensity of the problem. Cybercrime constitutes the biggest transfer of wealth in history.”
To combat the problem, the U.S. government oversees more than 20 agencies working to protect cyberspace. Unfortunately, Coleman said, the agencies are not well coordinated. Moreover, he added, there are inadequate laws to protect U.S. citizens.
Cybercrime is tough to combat, Coleman said, because it is well funded by professional crime syndicates, and governments as well as individuals commit cybercrime. Russia is the world leader in consumer cybercrime, while China is the world leader in cyberespionage (stealing intellectual property), he noted.
Coleman advised people to protect themselves in cyberspace by using security software with automatic updates, performing frequent security scans, using a separate credit card for online financial transactions and selecting strong passwords and changing them often. He warned against online banking, unless the user has a really secure system. He suggested only opening online documents “if you trust them.”
Coleman concluded that even though many bad things are occurring in the cyberworld, he is optimistic and believes that the U.S. is making progress in regards to cybersecurity.
The Morning Forum of Los Altos is a members-only lecture series that meets at Los Altos United Methodist Church. For membership details and more information, visit morning forum.com.