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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Admiral Mike Rogers on cybersecurity

     Last week I had a chance to hear Admiral Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, at a United Way talk about the threats we all face living in the digital world.  With all the craziness going on today about hacking and other cyber issues I didn't want to miss an opportunity to hear how Admiral Rodgers views this reality.  Admiral Rodgers will be testifying today at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Russian hacking.
     The heart of what Admiral Rodgers said was that smart technology has given us amazing capabilities that we now carry around in our pockets.   We have access to information that even 10-15 years ago was unimaginable.  However with this technology we have vulnerabilities to our personal data that has to be fully recognized.  One example of this that you have never thought of is that with our appliances becoming "smart" information about our daily interactions may become known to criminals who want to break into our homes or harm us.  Maybe our microwaves listening to our conversations, like Kelly Ann Conway said, isn't as crazy as we thought.
     Of even more concerning is the ability of a hackers to infiltrate and shut down important part of our infrastructure such as the energy grid.  The way our energy grid is now connected to share energy among many suppliers makes it vulnerable to "bot" attacks and other threats that could cause disruptions that have life threatening impacts.   You can be sure that as our utilities attempt to build in protections against cyber attacks the attackers will be constantly testing any system for vulnerabilities.  The "cat and mouse" game moves to the digital platform.

      One humorous comment that Rogers made came when he was asked if NSA has difficulty recruiting talented cyber professionals when they will never be salary competitive with the private market.  He said "we tell recruits that working at the NSA will give them a chance to do things for which anywhere else they would get arrested."

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     And you thought they spent all their time laying eggs!


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