I’ve been thinking a lot about security lately. Maybe it’s just the state of the world, maybe it’s with our terrific regional meeting sessions on cybersecurity, maybe it’s because of my trying to get up to speed for my role on CSRIC and combine all of that with my youngest daughter, Kelsey, and her Johns Hopkins graduate program on security and all of the ensuing discussions (and continuing to be blown away on her knowledge regarding North Korean, China, Syrian rebels, sanctions and nuclear proliferation….)
Either way, I jumped at the opportunity to hear James Clapper for the second time in 3 months when offered the opportunity recently. Considered one of the finest intelligence minds of the 21st Century, Clapper served as the fourth-ever Director or National Intelligence, our nation’s top intelligence official – with oversight over the CIA, NSA and FBI. His intel experience, coupled with his extensive military experience as well as his pretty humble attitude about himself make him very compelling (but a little bit scary) to listen to.
His discussion this week focused on all of the current hot spots in the world – particularly Russia, North Korea and China and was forthcoming on the risks businesses face in an increasingly-digital world as well as the likely evolution of America’s geopolitical relationships. While NTCA itself is not necessarily a target point for anyone, it further amplified my appreciation for our team taking on advanced network security efforts in light of our own team’s work with carrier requirements and ensuring that we are also abiding by the counsel that we are sharing with our members. As my awareness is heightened, and after Dynetics did such a great job talking about how master elite hackers get into networks to show vulnerabilities, I have been amazed at how many “sharepoint” or other downloadable message I receive weekly that I now simply delete but every time, know how easy it is for anyone in an organization to hit to open. Yikes!
So – again, there is much to learn in the world of security…network and otherwise. But every time I hear James Clapper speak, I have a new appreciation for the men and women who are keeping us safe from things we cannot see and the bogeyman we do not know. As someone who (true confession) still checks the closets of hotel rooms before I go to sleep (hey, you never know!) and whose biggest horror as a child was “something” hiding under the bed (Poltergeist was a movie that scarred me for life), I now know that it is the things I cannot see that should worry me the most and am proud of our members’ efforts to protect their networks for their consumers.