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KNOXVILLE — “The Human Aspect of Cyber Security” will be the theme of the region’s third Cyber Security Summit on Oct. 16-17.

The summit is being sponsored by the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Valley Authority and its Inspector General’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Fountainhead College of Technology.

The event, to be held at UT’s Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center, will bring together computer and technology security experts from private industry, government and higher education to share information about computer network crimes. Anyone with an interest in computer-related law enforcement and security issues should attend.

“Our world is connected more today than at any point in our history,” said Robert Ridenour, UT’s director of information security. “While much of that connection happens electronically, it’s important to consider that humans still hold the keys to those links.”

Ridenour said the event will focus on the role that humans play in the face of growing cyber threats. Among the topics that will be examined is “social engineering,” the process by which a cyber criminal can gain access to sensitive information or networks not through electronic means, but by convincing the humans in charge of a network to unwittingly grant them entry.

“At nearly every step along the information superhighway, there’s a human making sure traffic flows properly, and that unfortunately opens a new front as we look to increase cyber security.” said Ridenour.

Among the experts who will speak at the summit:

– Jim Finch, an FBI agent who formerly was the assistant special agent in charge of the bureau’s Knoxville Division, and now the assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division.
– Kevin Mandia, an expert in computer forensics and specialist in computer intrusion cases.
– Michael J. Staggs, a specialist in hacking and incident response who has worked both for private industry and the U.S. Air Force.
– Laura Mather, an expert in phishing prevention and senior scientist with MarkMonitor.
– Randy Marchany, a computer incident response expert and director of Virginia Tech Computer IT Security Testing Laboratory.
– Jack Wiles, a speaker and expert in computer security and physical security.

Robert Kosky, who supervises the white collar crime investigations for the FBI’s Knoxville office, said the FBI has directed its hiring efforts nationally toward individuals with cyber expertise.

Knoxville FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard L. Lambert said cyber crime investigations are the FBI’s third investigative priority. More than 1,000 special agents are partnered with federal, state and local agencies forming 66 cyber task forces and 70 working groups across the nation.

TVA Inspector General Richard Moore said cyber security is vital, both for businesses and individuals.

“It is imperative that we stay on the cutting edge of developments to ensure our continued protection. Summits such as this one will help us learn from each other in this ongoing effort,” he said.

Also a summit sponsor, Fountainhead College of Technology, is a locally owned and operated private college that has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAEIAE) by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. It is the first college in the southeast to offer a computer security-focused baccalaureate degree.

“Fountainhead not only provides high level cyber security training for its students, it serves as an information security resource for law enforcement, government agencies and information technology professionals,” said Tammy Alexander, program coordinator for the college’s Center for Information Assurance & Cyber Security Training (IACT).

“Part of the core mission of Fountainhead’s IACT center is to reach out and partner with other organizations interested in cyber security, and we are pleased to be a part of this year’s Cyber Security Summit.”

Registration for the conference is still open. The cost of attending the conference is $75, which includes breakfast and lunch both days.

Conference information and registration is available on-line at http://cybersecurity.utk.edu.


Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409, jay.mayfield@tennessee.edu)
Victoria Wright (865-974-8599, vewright@utk.edu)