July 2017 Breakfast Briefing

Date: 11 Jul 2017

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It’s not IF you will be hacked – it’s WHEN, business leaders are warned

Hactivists, Phreakers and Crackers – these are the new names for those who threaten our connected world, international cyber security expert Dr Greg Epiphaniou has warned MK Business Leaders.



MK Business Leaders Partnership members had much to digest at a Breakfast Briefing on The Perils of Cyber Security by Greg, senior lecturer in the subject at the University of Bedfordshire. He talked about the incredible expanding scale and reach of the cyber realm, and the huge challenge of maintaining cyber security.

When what became the internet was first conceived it involved a few computers talking to each other he said. By 2020 there will be more than 24 billion devices connected around the world. Search engines already index up to 1.2 billion websites while the actual number of sites, including those in the so-called dark web, is in excess of 3.12 trillion! Every two weeks Facebook produces data equivalent to that created since the dawn of civilisation and soon billions of smart devices connected by the web as ‘the internet of things’, including driverless cars that process information around them to make decisions, will become a huge ‘sensing system’.

“Computers that learn your shopping and browsing habits already know more about you through your wallet than a close relative could tell you,” Greg said. “Put all these things together and we get complexity, and security hates complexity.” Greg talked about the threats to businesses from Hactivists, Phreakers and Crackers and said we live in an age when someone on another continent can remotely hack into a network server and damage a factory production line thousands of miles away.

Cybercrime costs the UK economy billions of pounds annually. “It is not a case of if you are going to be hacked – it is when,” he said. Cyber security is no longer an IT-related problem, it has now been taken outside the IT department but, he said 80 per cent of cyber-attacks could actually be prevented through simple measures, like using strong passwords. Greg wasn’t joking when he said it has taken some of us 20 years to progress from using ‘Password’ as our password to using the equally useless ‘Password 123’, and he advised that when a strange message pops up on your screen, resist tapping OK so that it goes away, that is behaviour cyber attackers exploit.

Dr Philip Smith MBE, chair MK Business Leaders Partnership, thanked Greg for a fascinating insight into a complex subject. “There was a lot to digest but with the help of your incredible knowledge we can now better grasp the challenges we face in keeping our businesses protected from cybercrime. Your talk is also timely given the publication this year of our MK BLP Business Crime Strategy which includes measures to protect against cybercrime.”