A Timely Talk about Cyber Threats to Our Democracy

Ed Amoroso Examines Critical Risks to Our Infrastructure in an AIG-Sponsored Lecture

Amoroso and Cappos

Ed Amoroso, here with Professor Justin Cappos, gave a recent talk on cybersecurity and national critical infrastructure risk to governments and nations.

On November 16, as many Americans prepared for Thanksgiving, Ed Amoroso — former chief security officer of AT&T Services, advisor to four presidential administrations, CEO of global security firm TAG Cyber LLC, and NYU Tandon Distinguished Research Professor — gave a rapt audience a good reason to be thankful: that there are brilliant, experienced, and visionary cybersecurity experts exploring recent cyber-threats to our electoral system and ways to mitigate those risks in the future.

Ed Amoroso

The occasion was the latest in a series of cybersecurity lectures held at NYU Tandon. “Democracy Confronts Cyber Insecurity,” as his talk was entitled, was generously sponsored by AIG and provided an overview of national critical infrastructure risk and his prescriptions for how the U.S. can protect itself from hacking by individuals or nation-states attempting to sow discord or influence elections.

Introduced by Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Justin Cappos — who announced that Amoroso would be teaching an online Coursera course that will cover such topics as cyber-attack countermeasures and real-time threat detection and mitigation — the engaging talk included solid practical guidance (which Amoroso has already detailed in a letter to the Trump administration). Among other points, he advised that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework, while admittedly still evolving, be adopted as the sole standard nationwide. He also put forth the idea that the federal government implement a program modeled on such initiatives as the Peace Corps or Teach for America, in which young cybersecurity experts could be placed in the Social Security Administration and other agencies, lending their knowledge and enthusiasm in service to the nation.

“In past wars, civilians signed up for military service and supported their government,” he said. “Now, in our current war against cyber threats, government must stand behind the IT security teams on the frontlines.”

Cybersecurity Presentation

Following the presentation, Cappos moderated a panel that, along with Amoroso, included Austin P. Berglas, Co-Head of Managed Services and Incident Response at BlueteamGlobal; Mike Higgins, a veteran security executive who founded the Department of Defense Computer Emergency Response Team and currently serves as Chief Information Security Officer at NBCUniversal; Rick Howard, the Chief Security Officer of Palo Alto Networks; and Tracie Grella, Global Head of Cyber at AIG.

In an era of social media botnets, malware-laden email, and infected mobile apps, the attendees were especially grateful to have the benefit of this impressive group’s insights and experience.