Technology

#Tech18: Forecasting Cybersecurity Risks and Rewards

By / Dec 4, 2018 (Tim Ebner)

ASAE’s Technology Conference & Expo kicked off on Tuesday with former White House CIO Theresa Payton urging attendees to be vigilant about their cyber vulnerabilities and to stay on top of tech trends that come with both risks and potential rewards.

There’s a big issue with our always-on, always-connected digital life: New devices and other technologies represent huge cybersecurity risks that can leave critical business information and personal data exposed to hackers.

While many new technologies are essential tools in the digital economy, organizations often forget to analyze their inherent risks and rewards, said Theresa Payton, president and CEO of Fortalice Solutions, who served as White House chief information officer under President George W. Bush.

“Our technology is designed to be more open and interconnected,” she said, “but because of that design, the human is at risk.”

Payton addressed attendees in a Tuesday morning keynote session opening the 2018 ASAE Technology Conference & Expo in National Harbor, Maryland, challenging association leaders to think about their cybersecurity exposures every time they adopt a new technology. Increasingly, that means analyzing device interoperability brought on by advancements in artificial intelligence, the internet of things (IoT), and machine learning.

“Here’s what you need to be thinking about right now,” Payton said. “How do I continue to integrate new technologies, knowing that people are at risk and knowing that these new technologies are insecure?”

User-Centered Security

For any organization, good cybersecurity practices start by analyzing users’ habits and designing safeguards around the devices and technologies staff use frequently.

Cybersecurity “starts with user-centered design,” Payton said. “It’s thinking about how you design interconnected technology that’s secure and safe to use.”

One way associations leaders can apply this thinking is by segmenting and securing connected devices that access IoT. In a home or office environment, there could be several such devices, such as voice-activated speakers (like Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Home), hardware systems, (like printers, scanners, and phones), or internet-connected appliances (from refrigerators to thermostats).

Network segmentation gives every IoT-connected device its own separate and secure Wi-Fi network. This strategy can create a stronger security perimeter for your organization and maximize your IT network’s overall performance, Payton said.

Cyber Trends to Watch

Payton said association technology leaders must also be constantly aware of external trends giving shape to the cyber-threat landscape. Major security risks include wire transfer fraud, intellectual property theft, ransomware, disruption of service attacks, and misinformation campaigns.

“These were some of my predictions, and they’ve come to pass,” Payton said.

What might cyber attackers have in store next? A few of her predictions for 2020:

  • A misinformation campaign will destroy an organization or industry for financial gain.
  • The blockchain—a purportedly “unhackable system of records”—will eventually be hacked.
  • Bots powered by artificial intelligence will evolve to commit cyber crimes.

Payton also predicts the emergence of a new breed of tech professional, the digital forensic anthropologist, who will help organizations determine whether an online content source is credible or phony.

“With the amount of editing for videos and photos and voice, and how good that technology has become, creating the ability for fake news will only continue to increase,” Payton said. “A digital forensic anthropologist is a bit like a detective” who can identify unreliable sources and misinformation online.

Payton encouraged associations to stay on top of emerging cybersecurity trends and hire the right talent to safeguard their data and systems—because “it will be those organizations who succeed,” she said, turning risks into rewards.

Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. More »

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