The Research Triangle Park

RTP 180 Recap: Cyber Security

By Jul 26, 2016

This 180 felt a little different. It felt like something had changed. Something new. Oh yeah! It’s the first 180 since I got married! In case you are wondering, the wedding was lovely and the honeymoon was spectacular. I did however set a new record; I lost my wedding ring 3 days into the honeymoon. Who knew freezing cold salt water made your finger shrink while paddle boarding?  My theory, some sea turtle has it listed on the “dark net.” Not familiar with the dark net? Well, you’re in luck because this month’s RTP 180 was all about cyber security. I’ve outlined the top takeaways from each speaker below and if you hate reading, we have videos you can watch instead:

Mark Cavaliero- CEO/Founder, Carolinas IT
By the end of this year, 6.4 billion devices will be connected to the internet. By the end of 2020, that number will explode to 20.8 billion devices. Those devices include phones, computers, medical devices, vehicles, security systems and more. With so many of these tools being integral parts of our lives, it is growing increasingly important for us to build capable network security solutions to protect ourselves from data breaches. Data breaches are not limited to hackers- they can include accidental breaches, theft of physical equipment or insider theft.

This list is not exhaustive, but here are some key pieces to building a strong and effective network security strategy:

  • Data encryption
  • Antivirus/malware
  • Acceptable use policies
  • Email filtering
  • Security event monitoring
  • Regulating user permissions
  • Regular auditing and testing of your system

Christian Hunt- VP of Product, Tanium
Tanium has been disrupting the network security industry, largely due to actively listening to their customers’ needs. They found an overwhelming need for companies to quickly better understand the activity of all of the devices on their network when diagnosing potential and real security risks.

Tanium has developed technology that allows them to track specific activity on network devices within 15 seconds. They have also discovered how to turn devices into “DVR”s of sorts, which can rewind in time to discover the origin of security breaches and virus attack. This better allows a company to find quick and thorough resolutions.

Erkang Zheng- Financial Industry
Did you know there is a “dark net” where cyber criminals trade services and software? They sell everything from stolen credentials and fake identities to cyber-attack software. They even receive star ratings based on the quality of the services they provide! We can think of cyber-attacks like a disease process the body has to fight. There is a root cause, symptoms you experience, and a treatment that makes you healthy again. Root causes can include software development issues, like not integrating security early enough in the development lifecycle, or overlooking flaws in design. However, the root cause generally stems from some sort of human error. We make assumptions that “no one will do that,” instead of thinking like the bad guys. Our nature is to trust, so we click on sketchy links in emails that we receive. We are quick to give permissions for web applications to track our every move and receive our information. In order to treat these root causes, we need to work together to build secure products and practice good security hygiene.

Karen Lissy- Research Scientist, RTI International
Our views and practices as a culture have shifted along with advances in technology. The average user touches their phone 2,617 times a day! If you only account for hours of the day we are awake, that is about 3 times per minute! With all of this time in contact with our phones, the way we are interacting with each other is changing. This change is not necessarily good or bad, but we need to figure out the balance between the amount of convenience and interconnectedness we want, and the privacy we expect.

Chinese scientists have discovered that they can predict your ATM pin number with 80% accuracy if you are wearing a certain type of wrist sensor product. Based on your location, they can tell that you are near an ATM, and based on the movement your wrist makes, they can predict your pin! There are many more implications that come from the convenience and connectedness we have from all of the technology we use.

Karen’s challenge for everyone is to educate yourself on the tools you use. Be more aware of the permissions you are allowing to website applications like Facebook. Read the things you are clicking “yes” too! We have all of this powerful, useful technology- just make sure you know how to use it properly!



Needless to say, the online world can certainly be a dark and scary place. Hackers are ruthless, cyber criminals have no morals, and viruses can destroy computers within seconds. Stay safe out there my friends. Be careful what you click on. Click here to find out what you shouldn’t click on.

PLEASE tell me you didn’t click on that link! Have you not learned anything?

Until next time…