Whether it is sloppy handling of private personal data, overexposure on social media or simply just laziness when it comes to choosing a password for the myriad of online accounts each of us has, Lawrence Husick says that “most people have their heads in the sand when it comes to securing their information.”
The lawyer and cybersecurity expert with the Foreign Policy Research Institute made his case to a Wilmington audience this week that everyone should be more mindful of the risks lurking around every corner in an increasingly dangerous digital world.
At a luncheon hosted by Westover Capital Advisors as part of an ongoing guest speaker series, Husick acknowledged that “technology has advanced far quicker than anyone expected” noting that criminals and both state and non-state actors have seized the opportunity for both monetary and political advantage.
“Just this year, there have been 11 million new computer viruses created. There’s a new piece of malware launched on the internet just about every four seconds. Over 500 gigabits per second of traffic — that’s traffic going around the world on the internet — intended to disrupt servers using something called a distributed denial of service.
“In effect, trying to overload the computers that make the internet work. We don’t know how many lockouts there have been through due to ransomware because most of the companies and governments that are hit by this kind of attack won’t admit it, for fear of being held up to ridicule, or worse yet losing their clients.
“We continue to be vulnerable. Malware and ransomware attacks are up. Good hackers can test 800 million passwords per minute. The Russians placed 3,500 ads on Facebook during the 2016 presidential campaign,” said Husick, a patent attorney and technology company founder who advises the government and private clients on terrorism.
Husick focused part of his remarks on the financial perils of the new digital landscape, a topic of particular importance to the Westover client base of investors. Husick warned the group to be particularly careful in the management of their financial activities online.
Husick: Install firewalls and avoid android phones
Asked how he acts to protect himself in that regard, Husick said he uses “a layered approach. Every one of my devices has a firewall. My own network has a firewall installed on it and has a blacklist that identifies malicious hosts. I use encrypted communication to obscure the content.”
Husick is not a fan of android mobile phones. “Do not use android devices,” he argued. “Androids are completely Swiss cheese – they come pre-hacked.”
He also talked about the impending transformation – and the security challenges posed – by the widespread use of cryptocurrency.”
“Facebook is planning to launch its own cryptocurrency next year – you will see huge shifts in how taxes are managed. The IRS is not going to know how to tax these people and the implications of widespread cryptocurrencies.”
Husick acknowledged the tradeoffs that come with so many facets of life enabled by the internet and digital technology and said a national effort should be undertaken to raise the awareness of risks and the ways it can be mitigated.
“The fact is, any time you use the open internet to share or transfer information, you risk the information can be tampered with. The solution is to undertake this as a national emergency. And to break out of our bubbles so that we are aware that conflicting messages are being channeled our way. It takes having your eyes and ears open and being aware.”
Westover Capital CEO and President Murray Sawyer said that while Husick’s “unique perspective on technology’s importance in finance and international relations” was bracing, it was extremely important for families and individuals to be aware of the growing risks of cyberattacks.