Life as a Target: Get Used to It

September 9, 2015
1:30pm - 2:00pm

Richard “Dickie” George worked 41 years in the spy-versus-spy game at the United States National Security Agency (NSA), the intelligence organization responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes. Boy, has the world changed since he started at NSA in 1970.

In his opening keynote, Dickie, now a senior cyber security advisor at Johns Hopkins University Physics Lab, kicks off the summit with a retrospective of that change, providing an almost nostalgic look at simpler times when the U.S. flexed is intelligence muscle to, on the one hand, snatch national secrets from the Soviet Union, and, one the other hand, prevent the Soviets from doing the same. It was a symmetric world: Offense was hard, and defense was hard, and it typically took years to pull off a successful caper.

Not so today. The interconnected digital landscape is asymmetric: Keeping cyber criminals out is extremely difficult and expensive, but getting in is often as easy as sending a phishing email to an unsuspecting employee.

And these days, everyone is a target (not just the government), especially data-rich healthcare organizations, which must defend against not just a single adversary like during the Cold War but innumerable nations states and sophisticated hackers.

It’s a daunting challenge, but “we’ve got to win this war,” says Dickie, and it’s the job of healthcare security professionals and counterparts in other industries to lead the charge.

Public trust and a stable economy depend on it.

In his keynote, Dickie will explain the defensive paradigm shift that healthcare and other "good guys" must adopt to better protect their data assets, as well as the necessary collaboration that government, private industry, and academia must engage in to win the war.


Senior Advisor for Cyber Security
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab

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