On Wednesday, March 27th, Praescient Analytics hosted the third session of our speaker series, the Knowlton Project at the Waterview Conference Center in Arlington. Named for the first American intelligence professional, Thomas Knowlton, these exclusive events bring together leaders in private industry and government for an evening of conversation framed around the most relevant issues in national security. Mark Young, U.S. Cyber Command’s Director of Plans and Policy, joined Praescient’s own director of Cyber Analytics, Bob Stasio, for a demonstration and discussion on the topic of cyber security.
Cyber attacks have dominated the news lately cycle lately, affecting commercial organizations, public figures, and even foreign entities. Using an open-source platform called Backtrack, Mark and Bob showed the captivated audience just how easy it can be for a hacker to penetrate a supposedly secure network. With Bob driving the technical side of the presentation, Mark explained, in layman’s terms, the techniques and methodologies that a dedicated malicious actor could use to gain access to a network, and eventually make changes to a computer. Disconcertingly, the duo was able to force a restart and create a backdoor entrance on a simulated machine with only a few entries into the command line.
Sobering as it was, the goal of the presentation was to motivate the audience of policy shapers and thought leaders to think about cyber security in a new way. As Mark and Bob explained, only a tiny fraction of traffic on the Internet comes from hacking or penetration attempts. Most of these attacks or potential intrusion attempts, perhaps 80%, can be stopped cold with traditional security methods like firewalls. It is that small portion of savvy hackers that can circumvent these static obstacles by using advanced techniques that purposely obfuscate their tracks. Our presenters advocated applying the same analytic ideas embraced by the defense and intelligence community to network security in order to fight back against this dangerous minority. Instead of relying on an algorithm or malware database, organizations of all missions and sizes should employ human analysts to quickly identify and eliminate threats to a network.
With such an innovative proposal for cyber security, it was no wonder that a robust Q&A; session took place after the presentation. Our highly educated and experienced audience members asked thought provoking questions relating to civil rights, scalability, and private-public sector collaboration. Overall, this edition of the Knowlton Project lived up to the program’s mission to bring together leaders in government, defense, technology, and business to tackle critical and highly relevant topics in national security. Thanks to our esteemed speakers, honored guests, and venue staff for a great evening!
Praescient Analytics is a Veteran-Owned Small Business that delivers training, data integration, platform customization, and embedded analytical services in partnership with leading technology providers. Praescient’s teams of analysts and engineers provide comprehensive solutions to federal and commercial clients engaged in critical defense, law enforcement, intelligence, cyber security, financial, investigative, and legal analytics missions.
Charlotte Stasio is Praescient’s Communications Specialist.