As a Chief Security Officer of healthcare for Microsoft, Joseph Davis has seen many hacks of online health-related data over the past 24 years. Davis, who specializes in data forensics, walked the audience through the current state and crucial importance of cybersecurity during his talk on March 22. Taking place in the Mural Room, Davis’s presentation was a continuation of the 2018-2019 Corner Office Speaker Series, a series of speakers invited to Andover to deliver talks on topics in the field of business.
In his talk, Davis explained that most commonly used objects in daily life are operated by computers. He believes that these objects must be properly protected for the well-being and security of all customers.
Davis said, “The effects of cybersecurity on our lives are massive. When driving in a car, you are technically driving in a computer. Almost every object nowadays is a computer or has a computer chip inside it. If there is no proper cyber security that is set up for these, anyone can hack into your car system and take over it. Same goes with a medical device with a computer chip. Imagine if others can control your medical devices. Cybersecurity is what prevents these disasters from occurring. Everything we do is now an issue of cybersecurity.”
Davis finds that seemingly trusted methods of cybersecurity are not very effective in protecting the corporation data. According to Davis, hackers are able to access files regardless of such implementations.
“A Firewall is not impenetrable. In fact, it is one of the easiest things to get around. All that the threat hacker needs to do is [to trick] someone in order to get their password. Once getting someone’s password, the system would not know the difference between the real user and the threat hacker claiming to be one. Even besides these threats that companies face, the activities that individuals do on social media and point systems are vulnerable data, all being easily hackable and manipulated by such threat hackers,” said Davis.
Nick Koobatian ’22, an attendee of the event, resonated with Davis’s observations of cybersecurity in the current world. He believes that more people should be aware of the potential dangers posed by threat hackers.
Koobatian said, “When listening to Mr. Davis [say] that many of the cybersecurity methods that I found trustworthy were ineffective, I was struck. With more and more computer technology becoming prevalent in our society, we are at a point where cybersecurity is equivalent to our own safety. I increasingly felt the need to protect myself from dangerous issue after the talk. More people must acknowledge that the situation is worse than they expect it to be.”
Davis also emphasized that the threats of having data hacked come from both internal and external causes, claiming that danger is present in all circumstances.
“People get upset, they get fired, or they want to take what they made in a certain company to another. If you are a systems administrator, you can also technically just steal all sensitive data without the company noticing. But there are also state sponsored threat hackers that get into the companies and steal important data. Factually speaking, many rivals of the U.S. have created enterprises of hackers who work regular hours to steal information,” said Davis.
Davis finds hope, however, in the fact that many businesses are beginning to take cybersecurity more seriously in order to maintain their level of trust with customers and board members.
“Cybersecurity is still kind of a new concept for many of the companies out there. However, what is hopeful is that large companies are at least starting to look into having security programs. A lot of that happens as the CFO or CEO acknowledges a culture change and notices that there needs be serious protection for their company’s data. This is becoming increasingly important, since getting customer data or confidential files stolen may hinder the trust that the company has with its customers or board members,” said Davis.
When asked about what people should do in order to increase awareness of cybersecurity and prevent the threat of hackers, Davis recommended more informational research about the issue.
Davis replied, “An individual must be on top of what is going on in the industry. Read the technology sections of all these newspapers and credible magazines. Just know what is happening in these companies. Really, the more information that you have, the more well-informed you are. We all need to take it upon ourselves to understand what the threats and risks are.”
The Corner Office Speaker series plans on featuring many more speakers in the future. Max Levi ’19, the founder of the program, noted that his goal is to bring more speakers like Davis, who represent different areas of business and entrepreneurship, to campus.
“Andover has connections to so many successful alumni, as well as being near Boston, one of the most prominent business hubs in the nation. Using these resources, we are currently planning on bringing a speaker every month, [and] trying to diversify the areas of business that they focus on. We always want to take a different route from previous speakers, because it is our goal to satisfy the needs of students who are interested in all areas of business,” said Levi.