McAfee CTO of the Americas: Today's Cyber Threat Akin to 'Cyber Cancer'

Image: Chris Harvey

If past years’ cyber attacks could be compared to the common cold, today’s Internet-based assaults are akin to cyber cancer, said Dr. Eric Cole, McAfee’s CTO of the Americas, in a recent cybersecurity conference.

Cole, a member of President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity commission, delivered his keynote speech at the New York Institute of Technology‘s first cybersecurity conference on Sept. 15. The event had brought together IT experts and government officials to explore vulnerabilities, privacy issues, and widespread security breaches within government and business systems.

In addition to Cole, the conference featured keynote addresses by AT&T Research’s Bill Cheswick, author of Firewalls and Internet Security: Repelling the Wily Hacker.

Cole’s address “Future Trends in Network Security” discussed how malicious code and attacks are increasing in intensity, and the impact they have.

“Today, we are dealing with cyber cancer,” he said. “Years ago, cyber attacks were more like the common cold. Now, if you wait for visible signs, then it is too late. If you’re not seeing them, then you’re not looking at the right spots.”

In the afternoon keynote presentation, “Rethinking Passwords,” Cheswick addressed common attacks on password systems and proposed the “non-moronic password rule—choosing a password that a friend or family member cannot guess in five tries and others cannot guess when typing.”

Other speakers included special agents from the FBI Cyber Squad in the New York Field Office; Dr. Kenneth C. Brancik, Northrop Grumman Information Systems; and David B. Dewey, IBM Software Group, Tivoli manager, Advanced Technology.

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