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For Companies, Defense is Still the Best Defense

For Companies, Defense is Still the Best Defense

As a strategy, attacking one’s enemies as a way to protect oneself has been promoted  throughout history as the best kind of defense. This doctrine has been suggested by Machiavelli, Sun Tzu and even Abraham Lincoln when he referred to “…offensive operations, being the surest, if not the only means of defence…” [1].

The problem is this doctrine of counter-attack doesn’t work well in cyberspace. When a company’s assets are hacked, all a company can do is endure the reputation damage, attempt a quick recovery of compromised assets, address vulnerabilities, harden security and move forward.

Options such as attacking the hackers, “hacking back”, counter-hacking,  or the more eloquent “active defense” surely go through the minds of every person dealing with a compromise.

Doing so in the U.S. is illegal. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) [2] makes most forms of counter-hacking unlawful. Also retaliation significantly increases the risk of putting the company in the cross-hairs of more hackers and becoming subject to more attacks.

The legal aspect and increased risk notwithstanding, the ability, effectiveness and value of hacking back is questionable.

A key factor is attribution, the ability to identify the attacker with a degree of confidence that doesn’t turn the victimized company into a reckless villain. Even during naive cyber attacks, hackers attempt to hide their tracks either by spoofing their IP addresses or using intermediate, often compromised systems of other organizations as staging platforms to launch their attacks. Counter-hacking the wrong network, IP or another innocent company’s systems would not accomplish anything.

The effectiveness of counter-hacking should be evaluated against the type and might of the adversary. Starting from the least to the most powerful, the first category are opportunistic hackers, individuals that hunt for technological vulnerabilities. Their motivations range from asserting bragging rights in subversive online forums to asking for ransom in bitcoin to return deleted data and restore defaced websites. Their methods are based on blunt attack instruments that scan thousands of networks and system for vulnerabilities, using code and instructions found on the internet. For a company attempting to retaliate against these hackers, it resembles an infinite game of whack-a-mole.  And typically the hackers have no assets to attack — launching a cyber attack doesn’t require more infrastructure than a computer and an internet connection.

The second category are professional hackers, or hired guns. These freelancers operate with surgical precision. Their targets are specific companies and their motivation can be industrial espionage or disrupting operations to reduce capability and provide competitive advantage for the hacker’s “employer”. Attribution in this case is very hard as a company attempting to retaliate must distinguish between the attack executioner and the party that paid them.

The third category is state-sponsored hackers. These are literal armies of hackers that deploy coordinated hacking campaigns on a variety of targets and may range from industrial espionage against a country’s entire business sector to the disruption of power plants and electrical grids. The asymmetry of power in this case is so pronounced that companies have little or no chance to accomplish anything by launching a counter-attack against a state ,other than becoming a prime target.

It is clear from the above that hacking back is a lost cause. Yet companies are becoming increasingly frustrated and continue to discuss options for retaliation. If not active counter attacks, perhaps baiting hackers and planting software that operates either as a timebomb or a beacon in fake but sensitive-looking documents. In the first case, the planted software “explodes” after being stolen, infecting the hacker’s files and network similar to dye packs planted in bags of money in banks. In the second case, a beacon software generates location signals, revealing the location of the perpetrator.

While these methods may make potential hackers think twice about conducting operations, they will do very little to thwart their activities.

It is safe to say that a state-to-state adversarial engagement in cyberspace is a completely different matter. The balance of power is different and its resemblance to military combat lends itself to applying more traditional engagement doctrines such as the strategic offensive principle of war. The number of stories of clandestine sabotage as a counter or preemptive attack are increasing.

The unconfirmed release from US and Israel of Stuxnet [3-5], a virus released to impede Iran’s nuclear plants by destroying centrifuges is a case of a preemptive attack.   Another, borderline funny, retaliation example is the outing of a hacker by the country of Georgia. Frustrated by continuous Russian cyber attacks, they baited a hacker with software that once stolen by the hacker, took photos of him using his webcam.

While these and many other similar stories are newsworthy and often have political implications, vigilantism has no place in industry. Companies should focus on excelling in their domains of operation.  Organizations in all sectors, manufacturing, banking, health and technology should act legally and maintain an ethical advantage against hacking attacks, while acting to harden their cyber defenses and make it as hard as possible for hackers to profile, attack and profit from their crimes.

REFERENCES

  1. “From George Washington to John Trumbull, 25 June 1799,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified February 1, 2018, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/06-04-02-0120. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Retirement Series, vol. 4, 20 April 1799 – 13 December 1799, ed. W. W. Abbot. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999, pp. 156–159.]
  2. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 47, § 1030
  3. Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller, and Julie Tate; June 19, 2012; “U.S. Israel Developed Flame Computer Virus to Slow Iranian Nuclear Efforts, Officials Say;” The Washington Post; http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-israeldeveloped-computer-virus-to-slow-iranian-nuclear-efforts-officials-say/2012/06/19/gJQA6xBPoV_story.html.
  4. David E. Sanger, June 1, 2012, “Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyber Attacks Against Iran,” New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/world/middleeast/ obama-ordered-wave-of-cyberattacks-against-iran.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
  5. Joby Warrick; February 16, 2011; “Iran’s Nuclear Natanz Facility Recovered Quickly From Stuxnet Cyber Attack;” The Washington Post Online; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/15/AR2011021505395.html
Posted by
George Dimitoglou
Author Bio
George Dimitoglou, Ph.D., is an associate professor of computer science at Hood College and director of the Cybersecurity master’s program at the Hood College Graduate School. He is also the director of the Center of Computer Security and Information Assurance. Professor Dimitoglou earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from Temple University and a Ph.D. in computer science from The George Washington University.
POV From CEO, Tami Howie: Protecting Innovation Protects Patients and Our Economy

POV From CEO, Tami Howie: Protecting Innovation Protects Patients and Our Economy

Innovation is at the heart of Maryland’s economy and the wellbeing of patients in our state. New, groundbreaking cures and treatments save and extend the lives of patients, pushing the bounds of modern medicine, for the benefit of all. Innovative companies are able to leverage Maryland’s combination of technology know-how, business-friendly climate, and highly-educated, highly-skilled workforce to produce these cures and provide hundreds of thousands of Marylanders with well-paying jobs.

However, despite all this, the Maryland General Assembly is currently debating drug pricing legislation that would threaten the innovative potential that makes these benefits possible. New regulations, SB 1023/HB 1194, would create a government-controlled commission with broad leeway to influence drug prices and increase burdensome reporting requirements adding yet another layer of complexity to drug manufacturing.

Click here to read more >>

POV From CEO, Tami Howie: Support Senate Bill 1188

POV From CEO, Tami Howie: Support Senate Bill 1188

We’re for new rules for the new economy…. 

We’re the most Innovative State in the Nation.

We have around 12,000 IT companies – second only to Silicon Valley.

We’re the cyber security capital of the United States, home to the National Security Agency, the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, and around 1,200 cyber security companies.

Our workforce is extraordinary – with the highest concentration of engineers and scientists anywhere in the country, and we rank second in the concentration of STEM employment.

I could go on and on.

Simply put, our tech sector is strong. We’re competing – and leading – regionally, nationally and globally in the new digital economy.

All Marylanders should be proud of our position as a technology leader.

If want to remain at the top of these rankings, we need smart public policies. That’s why we support Senate Bill 1188.

Strong, reliable and fast mobile broadband service is necessary to connect everything in an increasingly connected world – from smartphones and tables to autonomous vehicles and diagnostic medical equipment, and so much more.  This legislation will make help speed up the installation of the infrastructure necessary to bring 5G mobile broadband service to Marylanders.

Known as small cells, this equipment can be affixed to street lights, utility poles or buildings to help provide mobile broadband coverage. This equipment is needed to meet explosive growth in mobile data usage. Plus, small cells are integral to preparing for superfast 5G speeds that soon will be the norm.

You can read more about our take on this bill in the Baltimore Business Journal. Read it HERE.

We look forward to working with each of you to win passage of this critical infrastructure legislation and get it to Gov. Hogan’s desk this session.

WANT TO HELP US BRING 5G TO MARYLAND?

Contact your state senator officials OR members of the Senate Finance Committee via email (listed below) or phone (410) 841-3677.

thomas.mclain.middleton@senate.state.md.us
john.astle@senate.state.md.us
joanne.benson@senate.state.md.us
brian.feldman@senate.state.md.us
steve.hershey@senate.state.md.us
jb.jennings@senate.state.md.us
katherine.klausmeier@senate.state.md.us
james.mathias@senate.state.md.us
edward.reilly@senate.state.md.us
jim.rosapepe@senate.state.md.us

Can non-degreed, skilled workers thrive in the biotech ecosystem?

Can non-degreed, skilled workers thrive in the biotech ecosystem?

The skills to pay the bills, 20 years ago, was the catch phrase that started the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland, Inc. (BTI) a non-profit located in Baltimore, MD.   Margaret Penno, Ph.D,  a researcher at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, had the idea that as the regions bioscience enterprise develops, everyone should be included.  In other words, a rising tide raises all boats.  Since its founding, BTI has trained entry-level lab technicians in R & D, production and bio-manufacturing positions at institutions like Johns Hopkins and at local biotech companies such as Emergent Biosolutions and Becton Dickenson to name a few employers of our graduates. Three assumptions are the foundations of BTI. The first is that there are good people that are under and unemployed that can do the work if trained properly.  The second, is that those trained cannot afford the cost or time constraints of a college education. They need to work and BTI does not charge a tuition. And third, as biomanufacturing matures, college graduates will not want to do the repetitive critical tasks associated with “working on the factory floor.”  As it turns out, these assumptions were correct.

Those interested in this competitive program are put through a battery of academic tests followed by criminal background screening and a drug test to ensure employability prior to enrollment.   The curriculum at BTI called the Laboratory Associates Program lasts for 9-weeks and is Maryland Higher Education Commission approved.  The program is based on the principles of current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) which gives the graduates the best opportunities, whether they enter academic laboratories or biomanufacturing and learn to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs). The final capstone of the program is a paid internship designed to give a real-world experience outside of the BTI laboratories.

In 2006, BTI extended its outreach to be more inclusive and get more candidates into the employment funnel. To accomplish this goal, an additional program called BioSTART was introduced with much success.   BioSTART is a bridge program that lasts 6-weeks prior to the beginning of the Laboratory Associates Program. Now candidates enroll in our BioSTART to Laboratory Associates Program.  BioSTART accomplishes two objectives: it allows those with less math, reading or employment skills, gain critical competencies targeting success in the Laboratory Associates Program and during employment, and it provides an opportunity to learn what biotechnology is about in a slower paced environment.  The implementation of BioSTART has allowed BTI to expand its training and placement opportunities to many more motivated individuals.

The Laboratory Associates Program is all about hands-on skills that are applicable to many industries, such as biological laboratories, biomanufacturing, environmental and food testing, and bio detection.  As an example of the Laboratory Associates Program content, students start with the basics, such as hand washing SOPs and documentation.  Then move on to molecular biology topics such as DNA isolation, bacterial growth and polymerase chain reactions followed by almost 2 weeks of animal cell culture, including clean room gowning just to name a few of the topics covered in the BTI program.

What we have learned with our near 20 years of training the under and unemployed is the employer gains well-trained and prepared workers who have the necessary hands-on skills to fill laboratory positions with cutting edge companies. These opportunities are a win-win as the employer gains the necessary workforce and the employee is provided with a job that promises a future, fortifies families, and stabilizes communities while promoting economic growth for an expanding industry sector.

 

 

Posted by
Timothy W Fawcett
Author Bio
Timothy Fawcett, Ph.D. has been in the biotechnology business for over 30 years. Trained as a biochemist he has held senior positions in both academics and industry and has been a mentor to many young scientists throughout his career. For the last 13 years Dr. Fawcett has been the Director of the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland (BTI) a non-profit institute located in Baltimore, Maryland. He is also the Founder and Director of BioSciConcepts, a social venture of BTI that provides hands-on training for professional scientists in cell culture, baculovirus based expression, as well as topics such as molecular biology, PCR and real-time PCR. BioSciConcepts is an internationally recognized provider of expertise in cell culture and the biological sciences and has provided consultation services to several small and large biotechnology companies.
POV From CEO, Tami Howie: Let’s Bring 5G to Maryland!

POV From CEO, Tami Howie: Let’s Bring 5G to Maryland!

We’re for new rules for the new economy….

We’re the most Innovative State in the Nation.

We have around 12,000 IT companies – second only to Silicon Valley.

We’re the cyber security capital of the United States, home to the National Security Agency, the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, and around 1,200 cyber security companies.

Our workforce is extraordinary – with the highest concentration of engineers and scientists anywhere in the country, and we rank second in the concentration of STEM employment.

I could go on and on.

Simply put, our tech sector is strong. We’re competing – and leading – regionally, nationally and globally in the new digital economy.

All Marylanders should be proud of our position as a technology leader.

If want to remain at the top of these rankings, we need smart public policies. That’s why we support Senate Bill 1188.

Strong, reliable and fast mobile broadband service is necessary to connect everything in an increasingly connected world – from smartphones and tables to autonomous vehicles and diagnostic medical equipment, and so much more.  This legislation will make help speed up the installation of the infrastructure necessary to bring 5G mobile broadband service to Marylanders.

Known as small cells, this equipment can be affixed to street lights, utility poles or buildings to help provide mobile broadband coverage. This equipment is needed to meet explosive growth in mobile data usage. Plus, small cells are integral to preparing for superfast 5G speeds that soon will be the norm.

You can read more about our take on this bill in the Baltimore Business Journal. Read it HERE.

We look forward to working with each of you to win passage of this critical infrastructure legislation and get it to Gov. Hogan’s desk this session.

We need non-traditional ways to recruit, train and retain entry level life sciences workers

We need non-traditional ways to recruit, train and retain entry level life sciences workers

In the first blog of this series, we talked about the rationale and need to develop a well-trained and highly skilled biotech workforce to support R & D and bio-manufacturing in Maryland.  Now, I want to highlight what our State is doing to strengthen a basic workforce needed to support our rapidly maturing bio-based industry sector. My focus is on the career path for the underemployed worker trying to gain access into this new and exciting business of biotechnology. Besides, the 4- and 2-year colleges won’t produce enough workers to fill the future void.  At a recent Mid-Atlantic Biology Research and Career Network Conference held at Loyola College (www.loyola.edu/mabrc) ,  Kelly M. Schulz, Maryland Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) stated that in Maryland, there are only 2,300 new graduates in 2017, with B.S. degrees in the biosciences.  Given that there are approximately 2,260 life sciences businesses including more than 500 core biotech firms in Maryland, is that enough of an entry-level talent pool to sustain the nee   Probably not, especially considering that a proportion of these new graduates will not stay in Maryland following completion of their degrees.

So,  what do we do to train and retain biotechnology talent in Maryland?  Two programs making a difference are the EARN Maryland program and the Maryland Tech Connection.  EARN Maryland, a DLLR program since 2014, is an industry collaboration with diverse partners working together to meet the changing workforce needs and skills shortage, bridging the skills gap and driving economic growth in our State.  In addition to the bioscience sector, EARN Maryland also targets the IT sector. EARN targets incumbent workers, as well as, low and no-skilled workers to eliminate barriers and create career pathways. Two groups, BioTrain, located in Montgomery County and the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland, Inc (BTI) in Baltimore City are EARN grant recipients working to up-skill workers and provide employment opportunities in Maryland.  BioTrain began in 2013 and is tasked with improving the job readiness of entry level employees and sharpening the skills of incumbent employees in the biosciences industry. BTI is taking a different tack expanding biosciences job opportunities to Baltimore City residents and Maryland residents.  Since 1998, BTI’s mission is to train high school graduates that are under and unemployed to be skilled workers in the biosciences. Maryland EARN has allowed BTI to expand its outreach to allow more Maryland residents to gain employment by providing the skills needed to enter into this exciting field of bioscience.

Another critical workforce program, Maryland Tech Connection (MTC) is a public-private initiative comprised of a coalition of 59 partners led by the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation. MTC seeks to support the talent acquisition and retention needs of IT and bioscience businesses and assist long-term under and unemployed professionals’ transition to occupations within these high-demand industries.   MTC provides needed pre- employment coaching and job readiness skills,  to transition the client into  programs such as BTI for advanced biotechnology training where the hands-on laboratory skills are developed.

Together,  efforts like these demonstrate in part that our State has made a commitment to economic development in the area of biotechnology and we are lifting up our own bioscience community by the bootstraps.  The next blog will focus on programs of the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland, Inc. in Baltimore as the organization gets ready to celebrate their 20th year providing  tuition free hands-on biotechnology training.

 

Posted by
Timothy W. Fawcett
Author Bio
Timothy Fawcett, Ph.D. has been in the biotechnology business for over 30 years. Trained as a biochemist he has held senior positions in both academics and industry and has served on scientific advisory boards for several large biotech companies. He has also been a mentor to many young scientists throughout his career. For the last 17 years Dr. Fawcett has been the Scientific Director of the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland, Inc. (BTI) a non-profit institute located in Baltimore, Maryland. He is also the Founder and Director of BioSciConcepts, a social venture of BTI that provides hands-on training for professional scientists in cell culture, baculovirus based expression, as well as topics such as molecular biology, PCR and real-time PCR. BioSciConcepts is an internationally recognized provider of expertise in the biological sciences and has provided consultation services to several small and large biotechnology companies.
How do we find talent in our bio-community or getting to 3 by 2023.

How do we find talent in our bio-community or getting to 3 by 2023.

This is the first in a three-part series about building and retaining talent in support of our growing bioscience sector.

Maryland’s bioscience community is expanding and maturing which is great news for our state.  Our bio-based ecosystem is healthy and getting positive exposure locally, nationally and internationally. Expanding and strengthening this sector to make it a key economic driver for the state is a worthy goal.  In fact, the state economic development folks have a mantra, to be number 3 by the year 2023, that is to be the third biggest life sciences region in the US, and this makes perfect sense as a realistic actionable goal.

As we expand Maryland’s bioscience community, a reliable supply of skilled workers becomes more important than ever.  I am not referring to executives, managers and department heads. I am talking about the workers that do the basic daily tasks. Let’s take for example those working in an R & D, or a quality control lab, or in a cleanroom manufacturing suite or even in packaging. As with any ecosystem, every niche needs to be filled and be productive to remain in balance with the other departments and processes existing in that ecosystem.  This balance then ensures the long-term survival and continued healthy growth of our industry sector.

So, how do we find applicants for the basic entry-level positions that are available but that often go unfilled?   We often look for college graduates with 4-year degrees to fill these spots.  Is that the right place to look?

A recent report by the Harvard Business School, Accenture and Grads of Life, states that degree inflation is a disturbing trend.  Companies are now requiring college degrees for some entry level positions when it is not necessary.   The report emphasizes that degree inflation has widespread consequences for both employers and workers. For example, a college degree increases the salary by as much as 30% and it takes longer to fill positions. Once hired college graduates have higher turnover and lower levels of engagement especially in positions that traditionally have not required a college degree. A Washington Post article written by Jeffery J. Selingo (October 27, 2017) covering the Harvard report makes a point of mentioning that “degree inflation also disproportionally affects minority workers, who often have lower levels of educational attainment.”  Two-thirds of respondents to the Harvard survey stipulated that a four-year degree excluded qualified candidates from consideration.

How do we become more inclusive and provide opportunities to everyone in our state?  My answer is to look within, literally.   We have a large untapped workforce here in Maryland.  Let’s take this opportunity to consider digging deeper into our communities to find workers who want to work and make a difference.

Part 2 of this series – How is Maryland addressing this workforce gap?

I continue this series with an overview of programs funded by Maryland and other jurisdictions to address the entry-level workforce gap. Learn how these programs provide the necessary training to provide a valuable labor resource to our growing “bio business.”

 

Posted by
Timothy Fawcett, PhD
Author Bio
Timothy Fawcett, Ph.D. has been in the biotechnology business for over 30 years. Trained as a biochemist he has held senior positions in both academics and industry and has served on scientific advisory boards for several large biotech companies. He has also been a mentor to many young scientists throughout his career. For the last 17 years Dr. Fawcett has been the Scientific Director of the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland, Inc. (BTI) a non-profit institute located in Baltimore, Maryland. He is also the Founder and Director of BioSciConcepts, a social venture of BTI that provides hands-on training for professional scientists in cell culture, baculovirus based expression, as well as topics such as molecular biology, PCR and real-time PCR. BioSciConcepts is an internationally recognized provider of expertise in the biological sciences and has provided consultation services to several small and large biotechnology companies.
Big Announcements from Maryland Tech Council

Big Announcements from Maryland Tech Council

Please see important information below regarding our office move, guest blogs and member videos! Let me know if you have questions.  I’m looking forward to seeing you soon!

  • Big Move

    Maryland Tech Council is saying goodbye to our old digs on September 20, 2017.  Please make note, our communications will be down that day and we will resume full activity on September 21, 2017.  MTC’s new headquarters will be located at Launch Workplaces in Gaithersburg MD, 9841 Washingtonian Boulevard, Suite 200, Gaithersburg MD 20878.

  • Be a Guest Blogger

    Maryland Tech Council is launching the Member Point of View (POV) guest blogs.  We are inviting members to submit content for our blog page.  The content will be focused on your niche/industry where you can add a new POV for the MTC audience. Our goal is to position you as an authority and well-known name in the industry. And for us, we will have fresh new content for the page and get new readers to our blogger community.  It’s simple and a win-win.  We will have numerous categories that you can write articles for; those will be available in the next few weeks.  We are kicking off the Member POV blogs during Cyber Security Awareness month in October.  If you are interested in submitting a blog on that topic, please let me know and we will get you started.

  • Become a Familiar Face in the Community

    Maryland Tech Council is revitalizing the “member spotlight” that is featured in the VIBE E-newsletter. We now offer the opportunity to feature you, the member, through our new and exciting video blog or vlog.  The video will be 30-45 seconds, prerecorded at our offices, about your company. We will then feature the vlog in our monthly VIBE E-newsletter.  The vlogs allow us to distribute the member spotlight through other formats such as twitter, Facebook, etc. to get you more exposure.  I mean, we are the Tech Council, right?  

 

Remember, everyone in your company is a member of MTC. Please share this important information with your team.

Warm Wishes,
Michelle

Michelle Ferrone
EVP, Operations
Maryland Tech Council
240-243-4047