NU Talks: Meeting the global cybersecurity challenge

December 2, 2019 posted by

(audience applause) – Good morning. I am delighted to announce that on the 6th floor of
this beautiful building, we’ll be opening the Institute
of Cybersecurity and Privacy. Over the last several years, we’ve been hiring the best of the best and we now have arguably
the largest group of faculty who do use-inspired
cybersecurity research. And this is important because
we need to solve problems that have to deal with society, with individual rights and privacy, with the security of our systems both in industry and in government. And I’m also delighted that
this is a very auspicious day because it is the first day
of the new executive director of our institute, John Manferdelli. I’m not sure I can see John. – [Man In Crowd] He’s
out being interviewed. He’s out being interviewed. (audience laughs) He is most recently from Google where he led a 50-person team who is in charge of
production safety and security for all of Google. He’s also a member of
the Defense Science Board so who better to lead an institute that’s going to partner with
both industry and government? Cybersecurity is in
the headlines everyday. You cannot open your newspaper, you cannot turn on the television, you cannot look at your Facebook feed without hearing about
some new vulnerability. And in addition to the vulnerabilities that we have in securing our emails, securing your credit cards
at various companies, and securing your computer from being taken over by ransomware and securing the internet, now we also have to worry
about electronic devices in our homes that we can be
taken over and used as spyware according to the recent
information on WikiLeaks. So two things really keep me up at night in terms of threats that
are looming on the future. The first is the fact that
we now have physical devices in the world, robots and cars, that are connected to computers. This means that we have
actual physical objects that can be used and maybe
endanger physical safety that can be hacked. Let’s take cars for example. Cars have over 80,000
different computer sensors made by over 200 manufacturers with millions of lines of code and they’ve been designed such that all of them
should behave politely. Well, they all talk to
the same communication bus and they’re all connected to the internet. And so when asked what terrifies
me about self-driving cars, it’s not the artificial
intelligence aspect of can they avoid pedestrians, it’s the cybersecurity
aspect of can they be turned into physical weapons? The second aspect of
what keeps me up at night in terms of thinking
about security and privacy is that we have put all of
these electronic devices into our homes and we’ve turned
into a surveillance state. You have no more privacy. And if that weren’t enough, most people are willing
to give up their privacy by talking about everything that they do and then it lives on in the cloud forever. And I wanna say that I do not have a particularly wild childhood, but I’m really glad that I was not able to post things on Facebook
from my childhood. So just a word of caution to
young people in the audience. It lives on forever. So what can we do? Can we disconnect from the internet? No, we need the internet. It’s a critical
infrastructure at this point. And in fact, this is the state
of the world going forward. We’re gonna have all of these devices, they’re all connected, they’re all connected to the internet. I want you to imagine here we see a scale that’s connected to your refrigerator. I don’t know if that’s– (audience laughs) So all levity aside, we need to be able to keep all of these wonderful conveniences, these wonderful things
that are in our world, the ability to communicate worldwide, the ability to have smart sensors, we need to keep it safe and the Institute for
Cybersecurity and Privacy is going to work on these challenges. I wanna name just three right
now of the many challenges that we’re going to work on. The first is the fact that you have all these devices in your home. The ship has sailed. You have unsecure things
all over your house. How can we discover and mitigate
the flaws in these systems and figure out ways to repair them without too much disruption? The second grand challenge
is we really need to be able to balance our connectivity
and our privacy. We need to be able to ensure that you have a right to
privacy of your information even when it’s in the cloud. And last and not least, is we need to secure the actuated world. What does that mean? Those robots, those cars that
are attached to computers that run around in the world and possibly can be used
to endanger human safety. So these are just three of
the examples of the challenges that we will be working
on in the new institute and we’ll be working on it
with respect to individuals, with respect to industry, with respect to government challenges. And in particular, we
won’t be doing it alone. We have collaborations across the world both in academia, in
government, and in industry from across the river in Kendall
Square to across the world. And we’re looking to
build more collaborations and really be a center
for use-inspired research addressing cybersecurity and
privacy in today’s world. Thank you. (audience applause)

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