Expert available to discuss cyber security following alleged Russian cyberattacks

Newswise — Monday’s joint alert from the U.S. and Britain accusing Russia of launching cyberattacks around the globe points to the need for more aggressive efforts to strengthen cyber security efforts, according to Dr. Bruce M. McMillin, a cyber security expert at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

“Most of our cyber defenses are modeled after medieval perimeter security – a firewall is much like a castle moat – and the idea of ‘keeping the bad guys out’,” says McMillin, a professor of computer science at Missouri S&T. “We live inside modern systems that are both physical and computational, and, in such a smart living environment, attacks can come from multiple different sources, some even inside what we consider protected.

McMillin is available to talk to journalists about the importance of educating college students in the field of cyber security. “We must focus on the information that both flows into and out of every portion of our smart living environment,” he says, “both hiding what we consider security and private, and disrupting the ability of our adversaries to launch information attacks.”

The threats go far beyond theft of personal information and credit card data. For instance, McMillin says, the 2015 Ukraine power attack that blacked out the country shows exactly what can happen if an attacker can compromise network routers – the lights go out. “While the internet is generally not connected directly to these critical systems, there still is a threat that an attacker can access and control our infrastructure,” McMillin says.

McMillin adds that Missouri S&T provides “a unique contribution to the information assurance field with our focus on developing ways to protect the nation’s electric power grid, oil, gas and water distribution systems; and transportation systems from terrorist attacks.” Much of that research occurs through Missouri S&T’s Center for Critical Infrastructure Protection.

McMillin also co-leads Missouri S&T’s Smart Living signature area. Smart Living focuses on developing processes and technology to turn home, workplace, transportation and energy systems into “smart” environments.

The U.S.-UK joint warning came from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation and Britain’s National Cyber Security Center. “Russian state-sponsored actors are using compromised routers to conduct spoofing ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks to support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations,” according to a joint statement. “Multiple sources including private and public-sector cybersecurity research organizations and allies have reported this activity to the U.S. and U.K. governments.”

To arrange an interview with McMillin, contact Andrew Careaga at 573-341-7765 or [email protected], or Alan Scher Zagier at 573-356-7917 or [email protected].