My boss Tim walked into my office. He asked, "There’s a Murfreesboro Technology Council panel event on June 3 about cybersecurity.
"Do you want to go?," he asked.
"Yes," I answered, giddy with excitement. I had been working as an intern web developer for a few weeks and had enjoyed it. Now suddenly it felt like I had a field trip.
We arrived at the venue, The View at Fountains, a new, upscale event location. We took the elevator to the top floor and were immersed in sunlight beaming in through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. I ran into the panel’s moderator, which would be helpful later on.
The panel comprised four experts of various backgrounds. They went over many topics, like governance risk compliance, identifying vulnerabilities, and data protection trends. I didn’t quite understand everything they said, but I was eager to learn.
They also touched ransomware, where hackers break into computer networks and freeze digital information until a ransom is paid by the targeted company. This was used against Colonial Pipeline in May, the largest ever cyberattack on an American energy system. All it took was for one employee to have their password compromised. From there, the pipeline was disabled and $4.4 million worth of Bitcoin was demanded, which was paid in full.
The panelists used this incident to highlight the importance of not reusing the same password for every account.
I knew that the moderator would open the floor to questions from the audience at the end, so I prepared mine. Tim was used to me asking him questions in a conversational manner, and it may have come off as pestering, so this was my opportunity to prove that I’m capable of asking substantive, worthwhile questions.
As soon as the moderator asked if there were any questions, my hand shot up. The moderator walked down the aisle and handed me the microphone.
"A ransomware attack happened again this week with the meat packing facility, so my question is: why is this happening frequently and all of a sudden?"
They answered with the rise of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, which allows the hacker to remain anonymous and is difficult to trace. The rise in working from home is another vulnerability because employees are connecting systems to the company’s infrastructure that lack the security controls a corporate machine would have.
The moderator said it was a nice question. Tim said it was a nice question. And when I walked in the elevator upon exiting the event, a woman told me it was a nice question.
I’d consider that to be a smashing success. The opportunity to attend this event is one that I will always cherish, and it was only possible through the generosity of my boss to take me.