Iowa State professor to speak in USSTRATCOM Academic Alliance Lecture Series

Jillian Alt, .

With all the security services out there, the public believes the internet is pretty safe. 

Yet, last month, 145.5 million Americans were impacted by the Equifax credit bureau being hacked on Sept. 7. 

Steffen Schmidt, a Lucken Endowed Professor of Political Science, is lecturing at the kickoff for the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Academic Alliance lecture series called “Is there such a thing as Cyber Deterrence and what is it?” this Wednesday at 9 a.m.

“Cyber deterrence is trying to stop hackers, other governments, disrupters and just nasty people from using the Cyber Space to attack you,” Schmidt said.

Deterrence has been successful in national security in other areas such as preventing a war with Russia by having nuclear weapons and using criminal deterrence to prevent criminals from attacking us, Schmidt said.

“Deterrence simply means how to prevent someone else from attacking you,” Schmidt said. “It is an effort to make the cost so high for someone to attack you, that they won’t do it.”

The problem however, is that online security is too delicate, and all it takes is one mistake to make your computer unsafe. 

Schmidt gave the example of thinking of it like your home. People leave the house and are sure they’ve locked all the doors, but their kid leaves the back door unlocked where the pets go in and out.

That’s all it takes for an intruder to have access to the entire house. 

“145 million Americans were relying on security when one guy at the company who does the credit background checks didn’t upgrade the software they were running, even though the company that provides the software said ‘we have a vulnerability, upgrade your software immediately,’ and he didn’t,” Schmidt said. “One person. One person costed 145 million Americans their credit card number, their name, number and address. It’s the biggest disaster we’ve had. Someone has all that information.”

Schmidt said there is no better solution. He said extremely reliable security measures are not possible currently.

“[The better option] would be to have access allowed only if you’re 100 percent sure who is trying to access it. Like biometrics — your retina,” Schmidt said. “If we used retinal scans to allow access, it would be very difficult for someone to hack your system.”

If you’re interested in learning more, dial in by phone to (866) 712-4038 and use the passcode 37250264# to listen in on Oct. 11 at 9 a.m. If people would like a powerpoint for the lecture, they can email [email protected] or [email protected].