On the morning of January 14 at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce presented a Bank of America sponsored event entitled, “Hampton Roads Business Brief: Cyber Security in an Era of Leaks, Hackers, and Big Data.” Martin Joseph, President of 360IT Partners served as the moderator of the event and introduced the panelists. The panelists included Heather Engel, Principal at Sera-Brynn; Scott Phillpott, Senior Maritime and Cyber Analyst at Valkyrie Enterprises Inc.; and a Special Agent from the Cyber Crimes Division of the FBI. Together the three panelists explained to around a hundred chamber members the dangers attached with network security and how it related to the Hampton Roads business community.
Phillpott was the first to speak on the threat that hackers can present. Phillpott spoke in detail about how easily a hacker could steal someone’s information and how relatively inexpensive the software needed to do so was. Regarding how long it would take him to access a company’s information Phillpott said, “The idea is that they can have email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook information, and Twitter handles all in about five seconds. It isn’t rocket science.” After Phillpott explained how easily information could be stolen Heather Engel spoke.
On the subject of small businesses being hacked into Engel said, “A lot of times we see small businesses become targets not because they are particularly interested in your company, but because they can pivot to some of your larger enterprise partners.” Engel gave information to the audience about what happens to small businesses when they have been infiltrated and warned, “Sixty percent of small businesses close within 6 months of a data breach.”
The final speaker at the event was a FBI Special Agent based out of the Norfolk Office who primarily investigates cyber crimes. Regarding cyber crimes and the possible threats they carry into the future, the Special Agent said, “The former Director of the FBI testified to Congress last year and said Cyber crime is probably going to become the number one investigative priority of the FBI within the next five years and that’s because this is a large threat.” Last year, the direct cost of cybercrime to U.S. businesses was $114 billion. At a recent hearing of the Senate homeland security and government affairs committee, the heads of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) told lawmakers that cyber-attacks were likely to surpass terrorism as a domestic danger over the next decade.
The panelists stressed that every business should have a plan in place and Phillpott felt it should go a step further when he said, “You must come up with a backup plan.”
Phillpott told the audience that he believed that the key to cyber survival of the businesses in the Hampton Roads area was by preparation and creating a partnership and said, “We are trying to make a Consortium to make this region cyber secure. A cyber partner ecosystem and what that takes is all the people in the ecosystem understanding what the threats are and preparing them for it.”