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20th Information Security Forum Congress opens in Vancouver

Information Security Forum : 05 November, 2009  (New Product)
Security professionals have converged on Vancouver for a vision of the future of cyber-security at the 20th Congress of the information Security Forum
Some 500 information security professionals from around the world, representing private companies, public organisations and government agencies, got a vision of the future and a taste of the present on the first day of the 20th Annual Information Security Forum (ISF) Congress in Vancouver this week.

ISF Congress attendees were called upon to put their security expertise into practice during a cyber-security crisis exercise dubbed 'Burning Maple' that simulated a major breach of a multi-national corporation's networks. Also on the first day, delegates heard from Esther Dyson, chairman of EDventure holdings who provided a glimpse of a positive security future in her keynote address. Dyson, who has tracked digital technology trends and developments as a journalist, entrepreneur and philanthropist, gave her speech as a report to the 2019 ISF members with a 'look back' at the decade that followed 2009.

Included in her outlook: internet service providers like Comcast begin to go after botnets - so-called zombie networks of malware-infected computers - by refusing to send malicious traffic; Google started warning users of search results that might infect their computers; Microsoft and Apple continued to work on reducing security holes in their operating systems.

The overall effect, said Dyson, was that, 'economic incentives to provide better security started working. Insurers offered lower rates for services with easy-to-use security measures and there was widespread adoption of basic security mechanisms. Insurance companies started hiring security experts. Much the same thing happened in the fire insurance business a century ago, when insurance companies became actively involved in inspecting buildings.'

In contrast, the 'Burning Maple' crisis simulation exercise presented a real life scenario from today, complete with fake 'breaking news' reports from an on-set news anchor. The experts were told that a fictional multi-national corporation had experienced a website defacement, which quickly escalated to a major data breach involving the company's networks held hostage by anti-capitalist 'hacktivists'.

The audience split into smaller groups were tasked with coming up with action plans that included taking back control of the networks, looking for cyber-crime evidence, alerting law enforcement and managing the public relations nightmare that resulted.

An international panel of cyber-security experts was on hand to comment on the response and provide advice. The panel included Prof Howard Schmidt, President and CEO of the ISF; Bernhard Otupal, Assistant Director responsible for prosecuting high-tech crime with INTERPOL; and Alexander Seger, Head of the Economic Crime and Information Society Department of the Council of Europe.

"This unique exercise with experts from diverse backgrounds demonstrated to everyone the need to be prepared for a worst case scenario in cyber space and the vital importance of cooperation," said INTERPOL's Bernhard Otupal. "The exchange of experience and knowledge during the exercise and discussion helped to prepare participants to react in a forensically sound way to protect customer data and to enable law enforcement to investigate criminals behind such attacks. The active involvement of INTERPOL also demonstrated the readiness and acceptance of global law enforcement to react to this global threat."

"It is the first time that such a wide international group of information security professionals has come together to participate in a real-time, simulated cyber-emergency exercise," said Howard Schmidt. "It is clear that by harnessing the practical skills and best practice from many of the world's leading organisations and industry experts, we are better prepared than ever to deal with every aspect of cyber- attacks."

The ISF World Congress continues through Tuesday at the Vancouver Convention Center.

Attendance at the Annual Congress is exclusive to ISF Members and is one of the benefits of ISF membership. The ISF is a not-for-profit, association of some 300 leading international companies and organizations, which fund and co-operate in the development of practical, business driven solutions to information security and Risk Management problems. The ISF undertakes leading-edge research and has invested more than US$100 million to create a library of over 400 authoritative reports along with information risk methodologies and tools.
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