Security Congress Final Thoughts: Being There for Others (Part 2)

Human Spirit

Admiral William H. McRaven (retired) was one of the speakers at (ISC)2 Security Congress who received a standing ovation. Another was Eric Wahl, an artist and best-selling author, who delivered the lunch hour keynote on the second day. He mesmerized the audience by painting portraits of Michael Jordan, John Lennon and Albert Einstein to heart-pounding music in a matter of minutes. He urged attendees to let the human spirit drive them even as they increasingly rely on digital tools, data, analytics and automation to do their job of protecting people and organizations.

EinsteinWahl talked about the importance of creativity and unconventional approaches. To emphasize the point, he spent the last few minutes of his keynote painting the Einstein portrait. But as the portrait materialized on the canvas, the audience was stunned to realize that Einstein had been painted upside down. Wahl flipped the painting dramatically once finished to show a completely different perspective had been used. Einstein, he said, is one of his idols and “arguably the greatest creative mind of the last century.” Wahl left the stage to thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

Being There for Others

During the event’s kickoff, (ISC)2 CEO David Shearer reminded attendees of their responsibilities to society. (ISC)2’s new marketing slogan is “Squared is There.” Nothing is more human than reassuring another person that you are there for them in their time of need, which is what cybersecurity professionals strive to do.

“’Squared is There’ is all about you. It’s all about the positive impact our members make on society,” Shearer said. The social impact cybersecurity professionals have on the world comes down to protecting people, property, markets and more. “We don’t accept a world where breaches are just allowed to happen.”

Although cybersecurity relies heavily on technology and, increasingly, automated systems, the reality is that security still boils down to humans helping humans. And when it comes down to it, there are decisions that we ultimately may not want to leave to machines – an argument that one of the Security Congress presenters strongly made during a session on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in cybersecurity.

Winn Schwartau, Chief Visionary Officer at The Security Awareness Company, expressed doubt that the humans who feed data into AI, machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) systems can do so without passing on their own biases, no matter how hard they try to be neutral. And if the data is subject to those biases, it will be very difficult – if not impossible – for machines to make judgments when neutrality is paramount, he said.

With that in mind, Schwartau suggested that it may be best to leave tough cybersecurity decisions to humans.

Even if takes a boatload of people to do it.

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