17:35 PM

UST Cybersecurity Expert Eric Botts to Present at SecureWorld Conference

Cybersecurity leaders are speaking out and collaborating to mitigate all-too-frequent malicious, devastating cyber-attacks. Just a few of the electronic assaults that made headlines in the first half of 2021 include:

  • a mass cyber-attack on Microsoft Exchange Server, which impacted millions of individuals
  • a dangerous hack that completely shut down Colonial Pipeline, part of the critical U.S. infrastructure for energy
  • an attack on the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority by Chinese-backed hackers
  • a malware attack on Scripps Health’s IT systems that resulted in the temporary cancellation of patient appointments and surgeries

Even more worrisome, the occurrence of these types of events is on a rapid rise.

At the 17th Annual SecureWorld Texas Conference on Oct. 14, 2021, some of the nation’s top cybersecurity experts will share critical findings and strategies for boosting cyber safety and security.

Eric Botts, director of the Global Cybersecurity Program for University of St. Thomas at Houston, and one of the conference presenters, believes a category of war is underway. His talk is entitled “We Are All Collateral Damage Casualties of the Ongoing Cyber War.”

“Businesses, educational institutions, civil society and everyday users of computer services have become collateral damage to nation-state cyber threats actors, who tend to be government-sponsored,” Botts said. “These attacks are becoming more sophisticated, harder to detect and more damaging to the core infrastructure of the eCommerce platforms we all depend on. Moreover, nation-state threat actors possess the resources and capabilities to breach even the most well-defended systems. If they can penetrate highly defended government systems, what chance does your company have in preventing such attacks? This places all of us in jeopardy.”

Viewing cyber-attack tools as weapons in the same vein as nuclear, chemical and biological arms, Botts believes the international community must agree upon a process of cyber arms control. Furthermore, he says specific critical infrastructure and institutions must be off limits to attack.

“The global economy is interdependent and given that our mutual prosperity depends on trade, stability and cooperation, it is in all of our interests to establish limits on the weaponization of aspects of eCommerce and the use of cyberspace for education and humanitarian purposes.”

Taking cybersecurity very seriously, Botts makes a troubling, but likely, prediction.

“I am sure that between now and the October conference, there will be more devastating attacks on critical infrastructure,” he said. “When one considers that some of the ransomware attacks were directed at hospitals and vaccine researchers in the middle of a global pandemic, it gives one an idea of just how callous some of these threat actors can be.”

At that October conference, Botts will be helping to inform and develop future leaders in cybersecurity.