Melissa Hathway, the Cyber Security expert from US was in Bangalore recently and addressed members of DSCI Bangalore Chapter at NLSUI on 1st October 2015. Melissa was until recently working with US President Obama and was tipped to be appointed as the “Cyber Czar”. She also worked as Director of the Joint Inter agency Cyber Task Force during President George Bush time and brings with her enormous US and International experience in management of Cyber Security at the Government level. She however left the US Government post and is now working as an independent Cyber Security Consultant.
During her presentation, Ms Melissa traced in detail how in the emerging Digital World, people are connected amongst themselves and with machines and machines themselves are connected with other machines, people and machines are connected with the house and the environment etc. and the security issues emerging therefrom.
Speaking on the privacy issues, she raised a pertinent point that the risk to individual privacy from private sector enterprises such as Google is much more than from the Government agencies.
While hinting that National Security should get the priority in designing the IT infrastructure, she raised a question on whether all the connectivity we are thinking of in the IOT concept is at all necessary.
Another important point she made is to question the manufacturers of appliances on whether the electro mechanical engineers who design the new systems and freely put in IP devices to monitor the activity of the machine understand the “Risks” inherent in such connectivity.
She concluded her interesting and authoritative presentation with a very pertinent question which was not specific to India but was nevertheless relevant. The question was “Are we Cyber Ready”?
The talk was followed by a Q&A session in which as usual solutions were discussed in the form of how to build awareness among the masses on Cyber Risks, what should be the responsibility of the Telecom companies, whether the legal system is resilient, whether our law enforcement had the requisite knowledge? etc.
The undersigned left a question with Ms Melissa and the audience that while creating awareness of Citizens, Police and Corporate officials is feasible, the biggest challenge was to create awareness in Judiciary and Top level Bureaucrats because they insulate themselves from attending any training sessions. She agreed that it was a challenge and it does exist in other countries also and strategies need to be found to bridge this lacuna.
Overall, it was a fruitful discussion and the audience felt that it opened new thoughts on security in the context of India entering the Digital India program.