Was your internet down or spotty last Sunday (Aug 30)?

I had several friends asking me about their Internet access Sunday morning. I was able to find the initial Tweet from CenturyLink at the time. I was hoping there’d be more details available later. [Added 5pm – someone sent me a great description and I’ve added it in the comments below. Thanks David Farmer!] It looks like we have confirmation but not much in terms of how it happened or could be prevented. Gizmodo reports…

Widespread internet outages knocked down Cloudflare, the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, Amazon, Hulu, and a slew of other sites on Sunday morning, and it’s apparently all because of a single internet service provider: CenturyLink.

CenturyLink Tweeted about the problem…

CenturyLink confirmed on Twitter that its technicians were working to fix an IP outage, which was resolved shortly before noon.

“We are able to confirm that all services impacted by today’s IP outage have been restored. We understand how important these services are to our customers, and we sincerely apologize for the impact this outage caused,” the company tweeted.

EVENT July 15: Cyberinfrastructure: Moving Beyond Broadband at HBCUs and TCUs

From the folks at BroadbandUSA…

Topic: Cyberinfrastructure: Moving Beyond Broadband at HBCUs and TCUs

Date:   Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Time:  2:00 to 3:30 p.m. ET

Overview: Cyberinfrastructure differs from traditional web and broadband access in its focus and magnitude. The high-performance computing and networking resources of cyberinfrastructure enables educators, scientists and students opportunities to create and collaborate in entirely new ways—experiencing processes and results even if the technologies and data sets are thousands of miles away.  Many institutions of higher education are engaged in this new kind of scholarly inquiry and education, empowering their communities to innovate and to revolutionize what they do, how they do it, and who participates.   Broadband, though necessary, is not sufficient for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) to be competitive in the 21st Century.   Please join BroadbandUSA’s webinar on July 15, 2020 to hear from panelists who will highlight the cyberinfrastructure at HBCUs and TCUs, as well as the importance of partnerships with national organizations such as Internet2 and EDUCAUSE in achieving the common goals of diversity and inclusion.

Please note: This webinar will run from 2:00 to 3:30 EDT.

Speakers:

  • Jason Arviso, Director of IT, Navajo Technical University
  • Curtis Bradlee, Interim Director of University Computing and Information Technology Systems (UCITS), South Carolina State University
  • Deborah F. Dent, CIO, Division of Information Technology, Jackson State University
  • Al Kuslikis, American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC)

Moderators:

 

  • Dr. Francine Alkisswani, Broadband Communication Specialist, NTIA
  • Dr. Tonya Smith-Jackson, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, NC A&T


Please pre-register for the webinar using this registration link.   After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Want to access past Practical Broadband Conversations webinars? Visit our webinar archives for past presentations, transcripts and audio recordings.

______________________________________________________________________________

Who are we?

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the principal advisor to the administration on telecommunications and information policy issues.  NTIA, through its BroadbandUSA program, works to further the deployment and use of broadband and other technologies across America.

What does BroadbandUSA do?

BroadbandUSA serves as a trusted and neutral strategic advisor, working with federal, state and local government, community, and industry leaders working to advance smart community and broadband public-private partnerships designed to attract new employers, create quality jobs, improve educational opportunities, increase health outcomes and advance public safety.  Check out the BroadbandUSA website for more information.

Turns out T-Mobile had IP traffic issues that slowed service on Monday (June 15)

I mentioned network outages on Monday when I wasn’t able to reach either of my parents, who are both on T-Mobile. Fierce Wireless reports on what happened…

The outages, which started June 15 just after 12 p.m. ET and continued for about 13 hours, were an “IP traffic related issue” that “created significant capacity issues in the network core throughout the day,” according to an update around midnight from T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert.

Looks like voice and text were down, but not data…

While voice and texting were down, Sievert said data services were working throughout the day, so customers could use apps and services like FaceTime, iMessage, Google Meet, Zoom, and Skype to reach people.

Still, the duration of the T-Mobile’s outage was not insignificant. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the outage “unacceptable” and said the agency is launching an investigation.

And it looks like T-Mobile was the issue…

There were complaints that AT&T and Verizon customers were also experiencing problems with service, but both carriers confirmed Monday that their respective networks were working normally. A Verizon spokesperson at the time said it was aware another carrier was having network issues and “calls to and from that carrier may receive an error message.”

Networks down all over the US June 15

I wondered why my dad was ignoring me. Then I tried to call my mom and couldn’t get through.  I had to remember my childhood home phone number, which thankfully worked. My parents are OK.

Their networks are not. I looked to find one article that spoke to issues with several carriers. WCVB (ABC TV out of Boston I think) reports…

If you’re having problems with your cell phone, it seems you’re not alone. Customers of multiple cell phone carriers are reporting widespread outages.

According to Downdetector, a website that tracks outage reports, the outage is impacting customers of T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon.

“Our engineers are working to resolve a voice and data issue that has been affecting customers around the country,” Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s president of technology tweeted. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience and hope to have this fixed shortly.”

In a statement to CNET, a spokesperson from Verizon said, “Verizon’s network is performing well. We’re aware that another carrier is having network issues. Calls to and from that carrier may receive an error message.”

AT&T says their network is working properly, but users of the carrier continue to report problems with their devices.

“Our network is operating normally, but it’s possible some customers are unable to reach people on other carriers’ networks,” AT&T said on Twitter.

My limited experience pointed to T-Mobile but again my experience is very limited. No cause was listed here. I will keep an eye out. It’s been such a strange year, I don’t even dare to imagine what’s going on.

I checked out Downdetector. They track downtime for providers and websites. The graphic of their homepage take at 6:17pm CST says it all. Lots of places experiencing problems still – a few seem to be on the mend…

Cyberattacks hitting Minnesota and local governments

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports of cyberattacks in Minnesota…

Hackers forced the Minnesota Senate website offline Tuesday, the latest in a series of cyberattacks targeting state and local computer systems. …

Ludeman said the security breach came from the same hacker group that targeted 10 state agencies, including the governor’s office, in recent days.

It’s unknown whether the attacks are related to demonstrations and unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd. But Gov. Tim Walz said at a weekend news conference that “a very sophisticated denial-of-service attack on all state computers was executed” as the state readied its response to riots on Saturday.

Such denial-of-service attacks send high levels of external traffic to a website’s servers, causing the site to freeze or crash.

“That’s not somebody sitting in their basement,” Walz said at the time.

City of Minneapolis websites also experienced outages due to a cyberattack early Thursday morning. A city spokeswoman said there was no evidence of a data breach and that most of the sites were back online by 9 a.m. that day.

It reinforces an important layer to digital inclusion – cybersecurity. Back in 2012 there was a national push (Stop Think Connect) to promote and encourage cybersecurity. I know the MN Broadband Task Force learned about cybersecurity in 2018 (and earlier). And there were discussions and tips shared even at the onset of the COVID move to work at home – but I think people are probably ready for a more detailed discussion and expecting more coverage especially given the tumultuous times and Minneapolis coverages in the news.

Broadband is transforming school thanks to groups like ECMECC that support the network

Ed Scoop reports on digital learning based on a recent webinar hosted by edWeb.net

Digital learning not only plays a crucial role in preparing today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow, it also has an important role in providing more equitable access to education, especially in smaller and remote school districts.

The webinar featured Minnesota’s own Marc Johnson who spoke about the role for an organization such as ECMECC

Marc Johnson, executive director of the East Central Minnesota Educational Cable Cooperative, who joined Fox on the webinar, said Minnesota has 18 regional networks, most of which now use leased fiber-optic networks. This provides the state with a scalable infrastructure, he said, and by monitoring disruptions and usage levels, administrators can buy additional bandwidth to accommodate future growth.

The ECMECC staff provides instructional technology support for districts, which is especially important for smaller ones that may not have full-time tech support people of their own. The staff also manage the network’s shared firewall and other security features that help to prevent cyberattacks. A data center, meanwhile, provides off-site storage and backup.

Moving forward, Johnson and his team will be facilitating schools’ implementation of 1:1 device initiatives, and the introduction of more 21st century digital courses. Districts can make their own through a process he called “curriculum adaptation,” rather than curriculum adoption.

A key aspect of this type of teaching and learning is the increased use of interactive video for online field trips or other activities. Examples include the opportunity for high school students taking health classes to observe and interact with medical personnel as they perform procedures, or observe a musician in a distant city teaching classes and leading rehearsals.

This type of distance learning can be especially valuable for smaller rural districts, but also for underfunded districts in urban areas that may not have the resources to send students to other parts of the city.

Greenwood Town Board officials question value of broadband

I have been working in broadband for 20 years. I remember introducing people to the internet. I was the first person to show them the WWW. I was like a magic librarian. And back then I spoke to CEOs, City Officials and others about the value of Internet. But it has been years since I’ve heard of community meeting that shifted from “how can we get broadband” to “why.” But apparently that was the shift at the Greenwood Town Board meeting on May 14, as the Timber Jay reports

Several Greenwood Town Board officials, at their meeting on May 14, questioned the township’s participation in the ongoing regional broadband project. The Blandin Foundation has awarded a $75,000 grant to several local communities consisting of representatives from Tower, Breitung, Eagles Nest, Vermilion Lake, and Greenwood to use for smaller community projects to increase broadband availability.

The group has allocated $5,000 of the grant to allow Greenwood to purchase a public computer for use at the town hall. The township is required to provide a match for the grant, but the township’s contribution could be in-kind services, such as providing rent-free use of the town hall space, use of the township’s printer (at a per copy charge) and oversight by township staff. The plan calls for the computer to be available only during the clerk’s regular office hours, 20 hours a week. The grant would also cover additional costs for higher speed internet service.

But town board members, who had approved the project at last month’s meeting, had more questions, and some seemed unwilling to participate at all.

It seems like part of the issue is the cost of technology…

Treasurer Pam Rodgers appeared to support the project, but she questioned the computer and software set-up from Mark Wilcox Computer Services that had been included in the proposal, at a cost of $3,278. She said she had talked with Wilcox and felt a lower cost computer would be more than adequate. She estimated that annual maintenance costs for the computer would be $300 a year.

Chairman Carmen DeLuca wondered why the public couldn’t use the old fire department office computer. Board members told him that computer was outdated, and probably wouldn’t be suitable.

I understand the desire to get the best deal but computers for home and business (or industrial-strength shared) use are different. It’s difficult to understand that if you don’t work in IT; I think the correlation might be home versus an industrial oven.

The bigger issue might be assumption that satellite will make fiber obsolete, or not worth the investment…

DeLuca also questioned the project’s commitment to installing broadband service. He said that in five years that technology would be outdated and satellite technology would be in use.

DeLuca isn’t alone in wanting satellite to be a solution but experts have repeatedly said that high orbit satellite will not work for rural areas…

Everyone is looking for a cheaper, easier, better way to bring broadband to rural Minnesota. 5G isn’t it. Industry experts have confirmed that 5G isn’t a solution for rural areas and a speaker at a recent US House Energy and Commerce Committee confirmed it.

And recently Doug Dawson explained how/why low orbit satellite isn’t likely to be a viable solution either…

At this early stage, it’s nearly impossible to know what impact these companies might have. We don’t know anything about their download and speed capacity, their pricing strategy, or their targeted market so it’s impossible to begin to predict their impact. We don’t even know how long it’s going to take to get these satellites in space since these three companies alone have plans to launch over 10,000 new satellites – a tall task when compared to the 1,100 satellites currently active in space. …

I foresee a different future for the satellite industry. Let’s start with a few facts we know. While 10,000 satellites is an impressive number, that’s a worldwide number and there will be fewer than 1,000 satellites over the US. Most of the satellites are tiny – these are not the same as the huge satellites launched by HughesNet. Starlink has described their satellites as varying in size between a football and a small dorm refrigerator. At those small sizes these satellites are probably the electronic equivalent of the OLT cabinets used as neighborhood nodes in a FTTH network – each satellite will likely support some limited and defined number of customers. OneWeb recently told the FCC in a spectrum docket that they are envisioning needing one million radio links, meaning their US satellites would be able to serve one million households. Let’s say that all of the satellite providers together will serve 3 – 5 million homes in the US – that’s an impressive number, but it’s not going to drive other ISPs into a pricing panic.
I also guess that the satellite providers will not offer cheap prices – they don’t need to. In fact, I expect them to charge more than urban ISPs. The satellite providers will have one huge market advantage – the ability to bring broadband where there isn’t landline competition. The satellite providers can likely use all of their capacity selling only in rural America at a premium price.

Choosing fiber today isn’t like choosing an 8-track player in the 1970s. Fiber will never become defunct. For broadband transport outside of satellite, a key aspect of the equation is how close you can bring the last mile to a fiber connection.

Dedicated Broadband for MN Responders is now available

Good news from the press release…

DEDICATED BROADBAND FOR MINNESOTA RESPONDERS NOW AVAILABLE
Approved Contract Will Provide Priority and Preemption in Emergencies

ST PAUL – Minnesota’s law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services personnel and sovereign nations now have the opportunity to sign up for the dedicated nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN), known as FirstNet. The State of Minnesota finalized the contract with FirstNet and AT&T. The pair has partnered to build and deploy the network at no cost to taxpayers for 25 years.

FirstNet’s dedicated public safety network, devices and apps will allow first responders to send and receive mission-critical information without experiencing delays. Minnesota first responders currently use wireless networks that can become overwhelmed or lack coverage in rural areas, especially during emergencies.

“FirstNet offers priority, preemption and reliability during emergencies like the Interstate 35 bridge collapse or the recent refinery explosion in Superior, Wisconsin,” said Emergency Communication Networks Director Dana Wahlberg. “Duluth responders provided mutual aid to the refinery explosion and experienced congestion on the wireless network during the incident.”

In October 2017, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the agreement after the Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Communication Networks (ECN) division partnered with public safety stakeholders to draft Minnesota’s State Plan. ECN is coordinating with FirstNet and AT&T as they begin to build and develop a quality network across the state.

“By opening up this avenue for Minnesota’s public safety agencies to adopt FirstNet service, the State is ensuring that lifesaving technology quickly gets into the hands of first responders to help them save lives and protect communities,” said First Responder Network Authority CEO Mike Poth. “FirstNet is the only wireless communications platform for emergency response built with the feedback and input of Minnesota’s public safety community and we look forward to our continued partnership with the State as we deploy public safety’s network.”

It is up to each individual public agency and sovereign nation to determine if they want to subscribe to FirstNet. ECN has provided an online workbook to help agencies with project planning and considerations such as coverage, capacity and cost.

What is FirstNet?

FirstNet was created by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 following a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. Its mission is to create a dedicated public safety interoperable, nationwide mobile broadband network to enable continued communication during a disaster, emergency or large-scale event. The State of Minnesota initiated the FirstNet Consultation Project in January 2014. For more information on FirstNet, visit: www.firstnet.gov.

[FACT SHEET] Learn more about how FirstNet will help Minnesota first responders.

Klobuchar, Kennedy Introduce Bipartisan Privacy Legislation to Protect Consumers’ Online Data

From Senator Klobuchar’s website

April24, 2018

Legislation would increase transparency by strengthening disclosure requirements, ensure the right to control one’s own data by allowing people to opt out of data collection and tracking, and require notification of a privacy violation within 72 hours

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Kennedy (R-LA) today announced privacy legislation that will protect consumers’ online data. Social media and other online platforms routinely capture users’ behavior and personal information, which is then used to help advertisers or other third parties target those users. The bipartisan legislation would require companies to make privacy disclosures clearer and more transparent, give consumers the right to control their own data by allowing people to opt-out of having their data collected, and require companies to notify consumers of a privacy violation within 72 hours.

Specifically, the legislation:

  • Requires terms of service agreements to be in plain language,
  • Ensures users have the ability to see what information about them has already been collected and shared,
  • Provides users greater access to and control over their data,
  • Gives consumers the right to opt-out and keep their information private by disabling data tracking and collection,
  • Mandates that users be notified of a privacy violation within 72 hours,
  • Offers remedies for users when a privacy violation occurs,
  • Requires that online platforms have a privacy program in place.

“Every day companies profit off of the data they’re collecting from Americans, yet leave consumers completely in the dark about how their personal information, online behavior, and private messages are being used.” Senator Klobuchar said. “Consumers should have the right to control their personal data and that means allowing them to opt out of having their data collected and tracked and alerting them within 72 hours when a privacy violation occurs and their personal information may be compromised. The digital space can’t keep operating like the Wild West at the expense of our privacy.”

“I don’t want to hurt Facebook, and I don’t want to regulate them half to death, either. But I have a job to do, and that’s protecting the rights and privacy of our citizens,” Senator Kennedy said. “Our bill gives consumers more control over their private data, requires user agreements to be written in plain English and requires companies to notify users of privacy violations. These are just simple steps that online platforms should have implemented in the first place.”

In October, Klobuchar introduced the Honest Ads Act with U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, to help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements. Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and placing political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. The content and purchaser(s) of those online advertisements are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology. The Honest Ads Act would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite.

 

Network Resiliency and Security Playbook for local government

Someone shared this with me, I wanted to pass it on. It’s from November 2017 – it’s a Network Resiliency and Security Playbook written to help local and state governments adopt best practices for preventing significant communications infrastructure failures and stopping or mitigating intrusions, hacking, and other disruptions of communications networks.

Intended audience…

The target audiences for this Playbook include information technology (IT) leaders and staff—the government employees who are responsible for implementing, operating, and maintaining IT systems—and the users of those government networks, including first responders. Because these audiences have a range of IT knowledge and expertise, this document includes high-level introductory information and links to useful background resources, as well as detailed technical descriptions of best practices.

Why you need it…

This Playbook addresses some of the key reasons that local and state government entities need to routinely include security and resiliency in their infrastructure development processes:

  • Local governments are attractive targets for cyber threats because they are often easy targets—especially those that do not have sufficient security resources and expertise

  • Local government networks can also be attractive targets in their own right, given their maintenance of sensitive data such as tax and voter rolls, contracts, procurements, traffic data, public-run utilities, etc.

  • Smaller governments often experience difficulty funding and staffing critical IT functions; as a result, those local governments might delay updating systems and applications, or even patching known issues, due to worry about proper functioning of legacy systems and risk of unintended impacts

  • Poor or inadequate segmentation of government networks can lead to large impacts from modest intrusion efforts

  • Local governments’ networks are increasingly interconnected with other systems, including those of other local governments, federal agencies, and private sector partners

  • Ransomware attacks make any target attractive regardless of size or sensitivity of data

  • Storms, floods, and other natural threats are a constant concern for any network, but especially for mission-critical public safety and government communications networks

If you’re still reading this may be a great tool for you!

New Year’s Resolution: Protect your Internet of Things

The Minneapolis Star Tribune ran an interesting article this week on cyber security and the Internet of things. The quick take is that the Internet of Things will make life so much more convenient but will also open us up for greater security risk. I think that’s the balance we have any time we use the Internet – for email, for web browsing, to buy anything. It’ makes life easier but riskier. The difference with the Internet of Things is that the risk more directly impacts our home and our bodies…

Consumers will soon become accustomed to conveniences such as starting a dishwasher from work, even though it’s hardly a necessity, said Ken Hoyme, a scientist with Minneapolis-based technology researchers Adventium Labs.

Small smart devices are “the weakest links” in a network, he said, whether it’s in a hospital or a home. For instance, he said computer worms can get into hospital systems through CAT scan machines with built-in browsers for automatic updates.

Breaking into an organization’s network could be as simple as exploiting out-of-date software on a smart thermostat to gain access to other connected systems, or simply changing the temperature settings to overheat a server room.

Hoyme said medical devices attached to the Internet could also be hacked, but that the dangers associated with not implanting a smart defibrillator far outweigh the likelihood of being the victim of a cyberattack. The University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute recently held a public forum on securing wireless medical devices against hacking.

If you’re looking for a short list for New Year’s Resolutions – you might at least consider how wide you want to balance convenience with security and privacy

Did you know you were a public hotspot hub for Comcast?

Here’s an ideological question – would you forgo personal privacy and security for the common good? If you could open up your home wireless router to others would you? I have certainly heard of people finding a way to share access with their neighbors since I’ve been in involved with ISPs. I remember in 1995, customers of MRNet found ways to connect their network through a dialup connection. (Can you imagine sharing a dialup connection now!) But the decision was always on the customer to share. Comcast has turned that around a little; according to CNN

Comcast has been swapping out customers’ old routers with new ones capable of doubling as public hotspots. So far, the company has turned 3 million home devices into public ones. By year’s end it plans to activate that feature on the other 5 million already installed.

Anyone with an Xfinity account can register their devices (laptop, tablet, phone) and the public network will always keep them registered — at a friend’s home, coffee shop or bus stop. No more asking for your cousin’s Wi-Fi network password.

And yes, this has been happening in Minnesota…

Comcast’s project that started in northern New Jersey has now spread to Boston, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and elsewhere.

They say they have found ways to make it secure for the end user and to make sure added usage does not hinder speeds. All good developments – but to me the hiccup is doing it without informed consent. I assume customers have signed something (no one waking more eloquently about usage agreements that John Oliver on acceptable use) but according to the article, only one percent have opted out, which tells me most folks haven’t realized this was happening.

So two questions – should an ISP have permission/ability/right to open up the network in this way? Second – will they be opening up the technology to make this possible to others? So can a community looking to expand broadband learn any tricks? And a while back there was some pressure on coffee shops and others who offer public WiFi, often through “home” type connections to upgrade to commercial Hot Spot services – does this help those businesses offer public hot spots more easily and within the boundaries of their contract.

PSA on Security, Privacy and the Internet

It’s not often that I stand on a soapbox – and admittedly my life is kind of an open book online – but I thought the video below was worth sharing.

My intent is not to scare people away from using the Internet but just to be wise in the information they share. A recent report indicates that people aren’t very careful…

A new study by Amdocs Ltd. shows consumers are willing to barter personal data for service discounts, higher broadband speeds and priority customer service. The survey found that 57 percent of respondents said they would exchange data on Facebook friends, family members, and locations in return for a better service deal.

Last week I saw an interesting TED University talk by Jennifer Healey on personal ownership of our digital footprint. She chastised the privacy policies that no one reads pointing out that we are giving out a lot of information about ourselves for very little in return. Part of the problem is that right now access to personal digital information is an all or nothing proposition. There are times when you might be OK with sharing your personal data (from buying history to contacts) when the return is worthwhile – but access to the latest game app might not be it.

People need the power to be able to manage and negotiate with their own personal, digital data. There ought to be a better way – but in the meantime be prudent in the information you share and the access you give to various websites and apps in exchange for using their tools.

Is your community ready for a cyber attack?

Sometimes I lie awake at night and worry about what would happen if the Internet stopped working. How would I get work done? How would I communicate? How would the bank handle my money? Yet, I don’t have the best passwords. I suspect my firewall would be pretty easy to hack. Thanks to FourSquare I leave a digital footprint everywhere I go. I’m terrible about backing up anything. I’m all worry, no action. That makes me worry even more that everyone is like me. We worry about security late at night but we lapse into convenience in the light of day. Was US Bank like me?

The US Bank website was attacked last week. The Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal (and others) reports that it was a denial of service attack…

The attacks flooded bank websites with 10 to 20 times more Internet traffic than the usual DOS attack. And even though the still-unidentified group behind the attacks announced its targets days ahead of time, banks were unable to cope with them.

So why weren’t they ready? I don’t know and I don’t want to pick on US Bank (they weren’t the only bank hit), but last spring I attended a National Security Conference at the U of M and one of the themes that came up was that human dynamics may be the weakest link in security these days…

Security often comes down to human error – or maybe human weakness. People open links they shouldn’t, download software they shouldn’t, transmit info via insecure wires networks. Sometimes that’s because people can be gullible; sometimes that’s because hackers can be good and persistent. Administrators don’t keep up on updates or take the time to shut all security doors and windows.

My worry was deepened last summer at TED Global, where we heard about groups who are looking to wreak havoc on security just because they can and where Marc Goodman from Future Crimes Institute, painted a very bleak picture of cyber security.

Marc Goodman did offer one ray of hope

Technology, he says, is affording exponentially growing power to non-state actors and rogue players, with significant consequences for our common global security. How to respond to these threats? The crime-fighting solution might just lie in crowdsourcing.

This fits in well with another TED speaker, Navy Admiral James Stavridis, who spoke of the need to build bridges, not walls. But part of crowdsourcing, part of building bridges is convincing more people that these topics are worth their time and consideration.

So back to my original question – Is your community ready for a cyber attack? If you don’t know the answer, who does? I’m hoping to find out more about who knows and how I can spread the word at the Cyber Security Summit next week (Oct 9-10). I’ll post my notes – but what I have picked up from previous cyber security conferences is that our greatest weakness is our potential strength – people! So I’d encourage others to attend.

Cyber Security Summit 2012: Oct 9-10 in Minneapolis

I am excited to report that I’m planning to attend the 2012 Cyber Security Summit. I will take good notes and post, but I encourage folks to think about attending too. As we build our entire lives online, I think it makes sense for everyone to work together to protect those online lives and security is definitely a case where you’re only as strong as your weakest link. So it behooves technology and community leaders to make sure that they are not that weakest link!

The Cyber Security Summit is focused on changing the paradigm of how we look at digital space and security. Our mission is to bring together leaders from the government, business, and non-profit sectors to collaborate on digital infrastructure security issues. These important issues have a profound impact on all units of society, from the largest- governments and multinational corporations, to the smallest- store owners and individuals. In an ever increasing digital world, all levels of government and business operations must be reexamined to address growing cyber security threats.

The Cyber Security Summit serves as a platform for the discussion and generation of new knowledge on a topic that is critical to our state’s and our nation’s future. By fostering the collaboration of the public and private sectors, our goal is to conceive new, innovative counter measures against cyber security threats.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 – Wednesday, October 10, 2012 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM in Minneapolis