Keynote - Michael Carter (2012 LDSTech Conference)
Chief Information Security Officer of the Church: bio.
Preventing Cyber-Attacks on Church Technologies
A summary of Michael Carter’s keynote at the 2012 LDSTech Conference, March 30th, 2012
By JeriLynn Fisher
“Cyber-attacks are the fastest growing threat to global security and stability. The number of major cyber-attacks is doubling each year,” said Michael Carter, Chief Information Security Officer of the Church, as he spoke at the 2012 LDSTech Conference.
Brother Carter addressed the modern challenge of cyber-attacks and how we can prevent them in our work for the Church. Everyone working in the LDSTech community has a hand in the cyber-security of the Church, and we must not take that responsibility lightly.
To reinforce how serious cyber-attacks have become, he referenced FBI Director Muller, who said that cyber-security is surpassing terrorism as the top US national security concern, and that too many people are putting themselves and the nation at risk by taking this threat lightly. Organizations that haven’t already been hacked can plan on it in the future.
Even the Church is susceptible. New programs and services are probed for weaknesses within minutes of launching, and those weaknesses are published on the Internet with the intention of exploiting and embarrassing the Church.
The Church depends upon the LDSTech community as its greatest asset in preventing these attacks. Carter stressed that each of us can act as a “human firewall” by being vigilant, expert, and faithful.
To be vigilant, we need to be attentive to our work and to the Spirit, Brother Carter said. As we work on Church technologies, if we see something out of the ordinary, we need to investigate it, improve it, or take some other action with it.
“As you follow those promptings and those ideas that you have in your mind, I’m confident that you will do more to protect the Church than in any other thing that you can do,” said Brother Carter.
Even just the feeling that something isn’t right or seems strange, or the idea just to look at something more closely and run a security program, can help protect the Church from cyber-attacks. Respond to the promptings you have and make the code stronger. Contact LDSTech with what you’ve found or done. Taking these actions does more to protect the Church than any intrusion, vulnerability assessment, or detection system can do.
Brother Carter said, “[We are] the Lord's hands in being vigilant to protect the Church. Be attentive. Respond to those ideas or promptings you have to take action to protect the Church. . . .I'm confident that there will never be a time when we're attacked when we aren't prompted or warned. I'm confident that as you're attentive to these things, and vigilant, the Lord will protect the Church, and you'll have a great hand in that."
Becoming expert at something requires us to reach out and learn the many programs the Church has put together. In many ways, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a leader in the area of cyber-security. There are training programs, vulnerability assessment programs, integrity monitoring programs, and more. It is our personal responsibility to learn them and apply them to our work. This too will help protect the Church.
Being faithful is one of the greatest protections we have in our lives, families, and the Church. More than at any other time in the Church’s history, we need His help to protect the Church through its technologies. We need to have our lives in order so that we are able to call upon the Lord and ask Him for help. He will help us.
In closing, Brother Carter testified that we must be faithful and call upon the Lord and ask for help in the work that we do. He said, “As you’re vigilant, as you’re attentive, as you rely on the promptings of the Spirit and your good ideas, and as you go out and rely on the programs and are expert in what you do, this work will go forward, it will be hastened, and we will be able to build and deploy these technologies without interruption or disruption or serious attack.”
Here are some sketchnotes captured by Ben Norris: