A Short Course in Cyber Security

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After a brief introduction by Steffi Czerny, Rod Beckstrom begins his talk on cyber security.

Beckstrom is the former president and CEO of ICANN and the founding director of the U.S. National Cybersecurity Center. Currently, he serves as an advisor to multinational companies, governments and international institutions, including serving as chief security advisor to Samsung SSI.

Our world

He summarizes the world we live in with three characteristics: 1) Anything networked can be hacked, 2) Everything is being networked and therefore 3) Everything is vulnerable.

According to Beckstrom, being networked will become ubiquitous in the years to come. "This doesn't mean security will be impossible, but it will be quite difficult." In particular, this is because the Internet was not actualize built for security. It was designed for openness and information sharing.

However, Beckstrom argues that there is a great need for cyber security, because as he puts it, our world is also "mad, mad, mad". The repetition is intentional as in the presentation it delineates a development. The world first went mad when nuclear power and weapons were developed. Next it went mad when cyberwarfare was developed. And it went even madder because "we are all Internet-crazy". To prove his point, Beckstrom asks whether there is anyone in the audience without a smartphone. No one raises their hand.

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Game-changer

What has recently changed, Beckstrom continues, is that following Snowden's revelations "we all know how mad the world is". Hackers are at most a few years behind the most advanced nation states. It is high time, Beckstrom argues, that the Internet hardens itself.

At the moment there are mainly still questions rather than solutions, however. "It's like the nuclear landscape of the 1960s when everyone was clueless and terrified." But he is confident that answers will come. Although he does not name any specifics himself, Beckstrom does mention he does not believe power over the Internet should be handed over to multilateral organizations.

Ending on a positive note, he concludes: "I hope that working together can bring some sanity to this mad, mad, mad world."

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