Nevada is one of the 10 states with the most cybersecurity victims, according to the FBI’s 2021 Internet Crime Report. Beyond the state, cybersecurity – or the measures taken to protect a computer or computer system from unauthorized access or attack – is a critical issue for the nation and the world.

“We face a constant barrage of cybersecurity attacks daily,” said Shannon Wilkinson, CEO of Tego Cyber ​​Inc. and one of the keynote speakers at the UNR Cybersecurity Conference on October 10. “But there is hope, and it all depends on the people.”

Dean of the College of Engineering Erick Jones and Executive Director of the UNR Cybersecurity Center Shamik Shengupta during the UNR Cybersecurity Conference on October 10, 2022.

Around 180 students, academics, industry leaders and government officials gathered for the conference, organized by UNR’s Cybersecurity Center and held at the Joe Crowley Student Union, to discuss how to protect data and the computer systems on which so much of modern life depends. .

The event also included a “Capture the Flag” game hosted by the College of Engineering’s Nevada Cyber ​​Club, in which attendees were given cybersecurity scenarios and problems to solve; an industry showcase; a student demonstration and poster contest; and a social evening. US Senator Jacky Rosen delivered a videotaped message in which she highlighted the crucial role cybersecurity plays in society.

“Cybersecurity for All”

“To meet the growing challenges of cybersecurity, an attempt at collaboration and synergy is absolutely essential between industry, academia and the government sector,” said Professor Shamik Sengupta, conference organizer and executive director of UNR Cybersecurity. Center.

This year’s conference was themed “Cybersecurity for All,” a message echoed by the Dean of the College of Engineering, Erick Jones, in his welcome address.

“It will take all of us, people from different academic disciplines, different industries and different government agencies, to meet the cybersecurity challenges ahead,” Jones said. “Cybersecurity isn’t just for IT people. Cybersecurity is for everyone.

Jones praised the Cybersecurity Center’s commitment to developing holistic solutions to cybersecurity challenges. He noted that the Centre’s work aligns with two of the College’s key positions: its commitment to equitable community infrastructure and its stake in cyber-protected information and communication technologies.

Who is vulnerable and how to protect yourself

Critical industries facing cybersecurity attacks, according to keynote speaker Wilkinson, include schools and universities; hospitals and health care organizations; and critical infrastructure systems, such as energy providers. She referenced the 2021 Colonial Pipeline Co. hack, which destroyed the largest fuel pipeline in the United States and caused shortages on the East Coast.

“These attacks have affected the lives of ordinary citizens,” Wilkinson said.

She added that current tricks used by bad actors include:

  • compromise of work emails, or when someone impersonates a CEO or supplier to trick employees into transferring funds;
  • multi-factor authentication (MFA) request fatigue, or when attackers overwhelm an employee with constant MFA requests, hoping they will accept one, which will allow the attacker to gain access to an account;
  • supply chain attacks, in which hackers insert malicious code or component into trusted software or hardware;
  • and ransomware, or blocking access to a computer system until a ransom is paid.

Dealing with these threats is difficult, especially due to the cyber skills gap: the national lack of cybersecurity employees. Wilkinson mentioned the cyber skills gap as one of the issues for the future: She referred to the roughly 700,000 cybersecurity positions currently open in the United States, a number cited in White’s July 2022 announcement. House National Cyber ​​Workforce and Education Summit.

The NUR Cybersecurity Center addresses the cyber skills gap with events such as the conference, which aims to establish partnerships between academia, government and industry to develop cybersecurity solutions, and also by offering the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program, which offers full tuition. for government service after graduation. Earlier this year, the Cybersecurity Center secured a five-year, $3.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to award the fellowships.

But cybersecurity is something everyone can participate in, and Wilkinson concluded his speech by referencing the “4 things you can do” presented by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, which is leading the national effort to understand, manage and reduce risks to our cyber and physical infrastructure:

  • Think before you click — recognize and report phishing (the practice of tricking people into revealing personal or confidential information)
  • Update your software
  • Use strong passwords
  • Enable multi-factor authentication
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