CERIAS - Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security

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Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security


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Panel #1: Visualization of Security (Symposium Summary)


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Panel Members:

  • Steve Dill, Lockheed Martin
  • Donald Robinson, Northrop Grumman
  • Ross Maciejewski, Purdue
  • Alok Chaturvedi, Purdue

Summary by Ryan Poyar

The first panel of the 2010 annual security symposium kicked things off to a great start and an interesting discussion. The topic was the Visualization of Security. The focus of the panel was to address the issue of how to use the vast amounts of data that is available in a way that can help predict and protect systems from future threats. Alok Chaturvedi, a professor at Purdue, initiated the discussion by describing how using visualization could potentially make it possible to display large amounts of data in a meaningful way. Donald Robinson from Northrop Grumman rationalized the use of using visualization with his argument that as humans we are naturally very good at recognizing patterns and making sense of visualizations as opposed to dealing with raw data. Currently, this technique is being researched through the project VACCINE (Visual Analytics for Command, Control, and Interoperability Environments) which is primarily focused on helping the mission of the Department of Homeland Security. As one of the researchers working on VACCINE, Ross Maciejewski described that the goal of the project was to be able to determine potential threats from an abundance of streaming real-time data sources and then further to provide real-time targeted counter measures against each threat. While all of this sounds very good in theory, getting it to work in practice requires many hurdles to be overcome. The discussion for the remainder of the panel was a debate on who should be responsible for making the threat determination from the data and then who should determine the correct response. Even in a non-real-time environment with only humans this is a very tricky endeavor. It seems that it is necessary for a specific expert in each field to analyze the data from their perspective and look for threats based on their expertise only. If a threat is found, it is then very difficult to determine who has the right background and is the best choice to mitigate it. Further, who has the ability to foresee threats that cross multiple disciplines? If we have a difficult time answering these questions in a detailed, comprehensive, non-real-time environment how will we be able to design a system a priori that can answer future questions in real-time?

Opening Keynote: Mike McConnell (Symposium Summary)


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Summary by Jason Ortiz

Mike McConnell, retired Admiral of the Navy, former Director of NSA and former Director of National Intelligence delivered the opening keynote speech for the eleventh annual CERIAS Security Symposium. The majority of this keynote was devoted to recounting his experiences and efforts to move forward national cyber capabilities. The following is a summary of those efforts.

Admiral McConnell opened the address with a simple statement: “The nation is at significant risk.” He pointed out that the United States’ economy and livelihood is in information streams. If those streams are interrupted or tampered with, the United States could lose trillions of dollars almost instantly.

McConnell continued the keynote by making three predictions. The first of those was the idea that the United States will continue to talk about cyber defenses but not really do anything until after a catastrophic cyber event. The Admiral supported this idea by pointing out that if extremist groups were to focus their efforts on cyber attacks, they could disrupt transportation and the economy. As evidenced by attacks last spring in California (criminals cut fiber optic cables), they could also disrupt services such as 9-11 service, internet connectivity, and cellular phone service.

McConnell’s second prediction was that after a catastrophic event, the government of the United States would suddenly lurch into action. They will pass laws, appropriate money and work to prevent the same sort of catastrophe from reoccurring. After all, Washington D.C. responds to four things: crisis, the ballot box, money and law. A catastrophic cyber attack would generate changes or problems in all four of these areas.

McConnell then proceeded to explain the most important aspects of cyber security as he learned as Director of the NSA. The first most important aspect is authentication. The second most important aspect is data integrity. The third aspect is non-repudiation. The fourth is availability, and the least important aspect is the ciphertext itself (encryption).

Finally, the third prediction made by Admiral McConnell was that the United States would reengineer the internet. He explained how the military uses the internet and predicts that the entire national network will be implemented in a similar manner in the future. Concerning the government, it is McConnell’s belief that the government can help to implement the redesigned and more secure network.