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Cyber security discussed at DeVry, Cisco event

Staff Photo: Keith Farner Panelists, from left, Tony Wasilewski of Cisco Systems, Michael Solomon of Solomon Consultants, Katherine Fithen of The Coca-Cola Co., Mary Hester of LAN Systems and moderator James Cavanagh of Cyber Exercisesdiscuss issues in a cyber security summit called "Know How for a new Tomorrow" on Tuesday night at an event put on by DeVry University and Cisco Systems at a Cisco Systems conference room in Lawrenceville.

Staff Photo: Keith Farner Panelists, from left, Tony Wasilewski of Cisco Systems, Michael Solomon of Solomon Consultants, Katherine Fithen of The Coca-Cola Co., Mary Hester of LAN Systems and moderator James Cavanagh of Cyber Exercisesdiscuss issues in a cyber security summit called "Know How for a new Tomorrow" on Tuesday night at an event put on by DeVry University and Cisco Systems at a Cisco Systems conference room in Lawrenceville.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Treat passwords like your toothbrush: Don't let anyone else use them, and get new ones every six months.

That quote from astronomer and author Clifford Stoll was part of a presentation and discussion event about cyber security Tuesday night inside a Cisco Systems conference room in Lawrenceville. The event put on by DeVry University and Cisco Systems was titled "Know How for a New Tomorrow" and is part of a series of summits around the country between DeVry and Cisco. Recently, there was a similar event in Chicago.

Attendees of the event were mostly DeVry students looking to network for jobs, and professionals looking for more certifications and skills.

"It's here," said Jalal Raissi, chair of College of Engineering and Information Sciences at DeVry. "And it's now on a global scale."

Raissi and Tony Wasilewski, a distinguished engineer at Cisco Systems, opened the evening with facts, figures and concerns about global threats to businesses and governments.

The Department of Energy is attacked 10 million times daily, they said, while 3 million unauthorized probes are directed at the Department of Defense each day.

A computer worm called Stuxnet in 2010 attacked Iran's nuclear facilities, and Wasilewski said the U.S. government was possibly involved.

"Depending on where you end up working, it could be an offensive thing as well," Wasilewski told the crowd.

Demand for cyber security skills is up as part of one of the fastest-growing industries around, at a clip of 28 percent by 2020.

Increasingly, attacks are coming close to home, and one victim could be in your hand.

One in five adults have been a victim of mobile or social crimes, and more than 30 percent of mobile phone users receive a text message from someone they don't know, Wasilewski said.

"It's probably not a good idea to open a file from a source that you did not solicit," he said.

During the question-and-answer session, panelists discussed questions raised from audience members.

Michael Solomon, president of Solomon Consultants, said his career advice would be to expand your skills laterally, and think about things people may do against your network. He added that outside attacks, and the vulnerability of a given network, are equally troubling.

Katherine Fithen, chief privacy officer at The Coca-Cola Co., said her advice would be to learn the foundation and underlying theories of how a system works. If someone doesn't have a thorough understanding of a system from top to bottom, inside and out, "you may be good today, but maybe not tomorrow."

Mary Hester, CEO of LAN Systems, said to take tough classes and learn how to deal with people because while there may be "a gazillion threats," the thing to worry about is "the people who let the threats through."

Hester also said students need to be lifelong learners.

"What we learn today ain't going to be true tomorrow or the next day," she said.