Digital invaders

Today, cell phones, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals can be a risky two way street, offering hackers and malicious intruders’ pathways to invade our digital lives. Up next, cyber security experts explain why they think we need to be more diligent about protecting ourselves from digital invaders.


Today cellphones, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth signals can be a risky two-way street, offering hackers and malicious intruders pathways to invade our digital lives.

Up next, cybersecurity experts explain why they think we need to be more diligent about protecting ourselves from digital invaders.

Sri Sridharan is the chief operating officer for the Florida Center for Cybsecurity in Tampa.

This agency works with all stakeholders involved in cybersecurity, including state universities, government, defense, and industry.

The Florida Center for Cybersecurity has three strong initiatives.

Number one is to create cyber professionals who are qualified to take on the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are open today.

The second thing is research on the Internet of things, how to make that more secure.

Last but not the least, we are very focused on awareness to make sure that we educate the public, small to medium to large businesses, to make sure they are very aware of the seriousness of the problem and what type of cyberhygiene they need to practice on a daily basis.

Sri sees the explosive growth of the Internet of things is creating major security challenges.

Today, there are estimated to be about 10 billion devices that are being connected in the Internet of things.

And by 2020, the projection is somewhere between 20 to 24 billion devices that will be connected.

What this means is that there's a lot of communications and data interchange that's taking place between multiple devices.

I don't think the Internet of things is very secure, and people need to pay attention to it.

He recommends being proactive in securing your data.

Antivirus software, firewall protection -- these are all standard things that you can buy commercially in the market, and they do go a long way in protecting your system.

But those are not the only things that will protect you.

We need to be even more vigilant.

For example, if the manufacturer of these laptops and these smartphone devices send you updates, make sure that you apply those updates.

Secondly, passwords you can use go a long way of protecting your system, as well.

Use complex passwords that people cannot easily guess.

And our e-mails are an easy gateway for hackers.

Make sure that you're very vigilant about what e-mails that you read.

If you don't know who the author is, do not get curious to touch it, because that's one of the ways they try to incent you into opening the e-mail, and once you click on an attachment, for example, it downloads the malware, and once the malware is in your system, then it's very difficult to get out of the problem.

If you take a look at all of the cyber hacks and cyber breaches, I would say about 80% of them come from human errors where people are careless about what they do with phishing e-mails.

That gives the hackers the ability to steal your credentials and use them to infect your system.

The center works with Florida's universities to help coordinate cybersecurity research.

At Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, associate professor Wei Ding works with students in developing cutting-edge technology, including a way to protect your data on your cellphone.

Say somebody has steal, you know, your cellphone.

Or you lost your cellphone somewhere -- a movie theater or a shop.

The bigger risk is the data -- most people -- the data inside the phone.

Our paper was talking about how do we prevent this thing from happening?

The idea is we detect -- detect with -- write a program.

The program will detect when this phone is, say, fall into the -- the wrong hand.

And how that was done is it downloads through what you call the Wi-Fi footprint.

The app uses your Wi-Fi footprint to track the patterns of movement of your phone.

After a couple of weeks, the program knows your behavior or movement pattern and where you use the phone.

So, this way, if, then, say somebody steals your phone, then the movements of the phone probably will be different.

So that's the way we find out the phone is stolen.

At the University of South Florida, doctorial student Ian Markwood is investigating ways to make the power grid more secure.

Grid administrators are responsible for managing the flow of power to where it is needed and held back from areas that have plenty of electricity.

There are some attacks which can allow for an attacker to inject arbitrary information into this state estimation process, which can result in the grid administrators not having an accurate understanding of how the power is flowing.

And what that can cause is possibly too much power over a line, which could disrupt where that area is being serviced.

It could be that there is too little power being supplied, in which case, that can cause brownouts.

Ian is looking to trick the hacker by providing false information.

Some of this information is publicly available and facilitates the attack.

We're looking at masking that so that when they try to perform the attack, it doesn't work.

At that point, the grid administrators can be alerted to know that somebody was attempting to perform this attack and they can take the appropriate countermeasures.

That's similar to the concept of a honey pot.

You let someone get ahold of some fake information and let them do something with it so that you know that someone's trying.

Hacking the power grid is no easy task and requires special resources.

I wouldn't advise the general public to be scared of an attack happening every day by some random terrorists.

But at the same time, we do need to perform this research and achieve this safety so that when a well-funded and very motivated attacker comes along, we can prevent it before it happens.

Whether it is attacks on the power grid or our personal devices, cybercrime is very costly.

The cybercrime itself is expected to cost over $2 trillion in the next three to four years.

22 records are breached every second.

So this will be expensive no matter how you slice it and dice it.

I think the technology to solve the cybersecurity problem will evolve over the next 5 to 10 years.

And through those 10 years, things are going to get worse before they get better.

So it's a serious problem.

We've got to get smart about how we deal with it now until technology comes up with the right solutions to solve the problem and protect the infrastructure of the data that we are dealing with every day.