It’s seems like all we talk about these days is defending our digital network, otherwise known as our cyber systems, (i.e., the Internet, information systems, computer systems). Many consumers worry about their personal data being stolen. They are terrified that bad guys are going to get their information like what just transpired at Target.

How do you go about protecting your personal data? What do you really know about cybercrime? What are businesses doing and not doing to keep from being targets of cybercrime? These are all important questions. But are they really the most important ones we should be asking? Rather, should we be more concerned about who is protecting our infrastructures such as finance, power, fuel, and transportation? Just how safe are those systems?

If you do any research at all, you will quickly discover any major disruption of those services could prove extremely detrimental to this country’s well-being and position within the global community. Last year, the Brookings Institute Center for 21 Century Security and Intelligence reported: “The level of cybersecurity awareness and culture in U.S. port facilities is relatively low and that a cyber attack at a major U.S. port would quickly cause significant damage to the economy.”

That is scary to think about when you consider the threats that exist around the world. Yet, despite events which should have made people sit up and take notice of the problems in security, some are slow to react…and that includes places outside the United States.

The Ponemon Institute recently revealed its Critical Infrastructure Security report, and the findings showed there is still a lot of work to be done to get companies to be more proactive in their attempts to shore up their systems. The report surveyed 599 global IT and IT security executives in 13 different countries and found “organizations are not as prepared as they should be to deal with the sophistication and frequency of a cyber threat…”

Sadly, 50% of respondents say their IT security activities have not yet been defined or deployed; 57% say cyber threats are putting industrial control systems and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) at greater risk; 67% say their companies have had at least one security compromise that led to loss of confidential information or disruption of operations over the last 12 months; and 34% say their companies do not get realtime alerts, threats analysis, and threat prioritization intelligence, which can be used to stop an attack.

At the end of the day besides the loss of money, it’s the loss of customers that really say it all. In fact, the Ponemon Institute confirms more customers stopped their relationship with a company that had a data breach (number increased 15% between 2013- ’14).

The topics addressed here will kick off next month’s programming with a special two-hour edition of “The Peggy Smedley Show” on Tuesday, August 5 beginning at 11 am with a one-hour interview with the newly appointed Deputy Commander of U. S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Maryland, Lieutenant General James McLaughlin.

The General takes a deep dive into cybercrime and what he hopes to do in his new role and what he has been doing in his former role as commander of the 24 Air Force and commander of Air Force Cyber, who now oversees all things related to cyber security from a national defense perspective.

During the month of August we interview experts about cybercrime and explore the more complicated issues of how cyber attacks can impact our smart grid, businesses, and what we can do from even the most basic steps to make a difference.

As the General says everyone should have some cyber hygiene within their personal lives and within the organizations where they work. Although he admits it won’t solve all the problems with cyber, but it will certainly make the task of a hacker much harder.

With the cooperation of government, industry, educators, and consumers we can create a more united front to protect our information and our infrastructure from cyber criminals. We hope you will listen in and encourage your friends, colleagues, and family to do the same.

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