Visiting Coffs Harbour for FlexibilITy 2012

The travels continue. I’m heading to Coffs Harbour in northern New South Wales next month to speak at Flexibility 2012, the 15th Annual IT Conference for Local Government.

You’ll be surprised, I’m sure, to discover that I’m talking about information security.

The Hacker Threat: Let’s bust some myths

The headlines portray the internet as a scary, scary place. Anonymous hacktivists mock the powerful, defacing websites and stealing vast troves of confidential information. Criminals plunder bank accounts and destroy credit ratings. Shady “nation-state actors” infiltrate secure government and corporate networks, stealing every secret they can find.

Information security companies publish research “proving” the vast scale of global online crime. Defence experts point to the vast sums being spent on military-grade hacking and talk of looming cyberwar. Of course both groups have a vested interest in talking up the threat.

The hackers are certainly real, ranging from youthful vandals with unfocussed quasi-political motivations to highly-organised international crime gangs and well-funded national defence and intelligence agencies.

Sophisticated hacking tools are now developed by professional software development teams. They can be bought in the online underground for just a few hundred dollars, complete with technical support provided under a service level agreement.

So how should organisations respond?

The threat landscape is certainly changing, so new tools will certainly be required. But it’s important to understand the real threats and their relative significance, and respond as part of a coherent strategy, rather than reacting to the latest panic.

This session will present an overview of current internet security threats based on the latest research with the bovine excrement filtered out.

I’ll be in Coffs Harbour from the morning of Wednesday 14 November through to the afternoon of Saturday 17 November. Apart from the conference itself, I’m open to suggestions.