SCHERERVILLE — “Cyber security is a moving target, and there is no silver bullet.”
Robert E. Johnson III, president and CEO of Merrillville-based Cimcor, Inc. presented that stark message to guests at the Lake County Advancement Committee luncheon Friday at Teibel’s Restaurant. CIMCOR develops security, integrity and compliance software solutions and exports worldwide.
Hackers present ever-increasing threats to everything from the nation’s infrastructure to individual’s personal information, Johnson said. There are now 390,000 new cyber threats per day and it’s predicted that will increase to one million new cyber threats per day quickly.
“Put your arms round the problem,” Johnson said, explaining that many of these threats are software-based with viruses, malware and ransomware among the chief weapons used. These also include APTs or advanced persistent threats, attacks during which a hacker gains access to a network and stays there undetected for a long period of time to steal data.
“What really concerns me are attacks you can’t see,” he said.
During his presentation, Johnson showed a map of the world with real-time cyber attacks on high-risk targets happening from places such as China and Egypt. Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, appeared to be the center of multiple cyber attacks on Friday afternoon.
Many larger attacks generate from right inside the U.S.
“We’re a hot spot,” Johnson said. “A national priority is protecting our infrastructure. There are 19,465 power generators and 7,677 power stations in the nation (and) it doesn’t take much to affect our infrastructure.”
Voting machines can also be hacked without breaking the tamper-proof seal, he said, demonstrating how one such voting machine had a Pac-Man game loaded on it as part of a cyber attack.
There needs to be “a systemic shift in how we think about cyber security from the board room to the mail room and that shift is up to you,” Johnson told luncheon guests. “Cyber war is real.”
It’s very difficult to protect secret and personal information, including health records because that information flows to a number of places that are not covered by either the HIPPA laws or the High Tech Act, Johnson said.
The Internet of Things (IoT), including smart TVs, cell phones, Fitbits, Apple watches, cars, refrigerators and new baby monitors create more gateways for hackers to access personal information because of their connections to the internet, Johnson said.
“There are currently 5.5 million IoT connections. By 2020, there will be 20 billion IoTs connected to the internet,” he said. “This is low-hanging fruit that can access your cell phone where all the crown jewels are.”