Expert discusses America’s cyber security problem

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Huntsville, Ala.  (WHNT)-  Cyber security is now a subject that most Americans have become familiar with.  Major retailers and health insurance providers get hacked all the time and there are people that are figuring out ways to stop it.  Ray Vaughn is the UAH Vice President of Research.  He is a retired US Army Colonel, computer scientist and a cyber security expert.

Vaughn has been involved in the cyber security problem for more than twenty-five years, and it is one that has grown, not diminished over time.  When asked if he thought the problem was solvable, Ray Vaughn had this to say, “I thought it was solvable in 1988, now I don’t share that same view anymore.  I think it is defensible and I think it can be mitigated, but I don’t think cyber security as a problem is a solvable problem.  I don’t think we will ever have 100% cyber security in place, so that we simply don’t have to worry about hackers.”

What type of person is a hacker?  Many different types of people can gain the skills necessary to gain access to restricted data on the internet.  Vaughn describes hackers as, “There is a spectrum of hackers.  There is the individual actor, that could be a fifteen year old in the basement of their home, hacking away at a Pentagon system.  It could be a nation-state with trained hackers.  It could be industrial espionage with a group that intends to steal industrial secrets and then perhaps sell them to a competitor.  Or it could be a group with a political affiliation or religious affiliation, so there is a wide spectrum of the kinds of hackers that one has to deal with.”

The Federal Government has been well aware of the cyber security problem for years.  Ray Vaughn tells what the government is doing to help.  “The government has understood the problem for the last seven or eight years.  There have been Presidential decision directives that have required the federal government to interact with industry to shore up these systems, but it is a difficult problem.  It’s not one that can be fixed in six months.  So it is going to involve re-engineering many of the software systems. It will involve re-engineering many of the electronic components that are engaged in these systems so that they do bring together some of the cyber protections that we would assume are in existence in a normal banking system or government system.”

Watch the full three-part interview here: