BY JEFF BRANSCOME / THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Mark Lowenthal, who spoke at Germanna Community College on Wednesday, was the Jeopardy! grand champion in 1988.
But the former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official says even he doesn’t have all the answers about the future of cyberspace.
“We really don’t know what it’s going to do to us as individuals or as a society,” he said at an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association networking breakfast hosted by Germanna’s Center for Workforce & Community Education.
Lowenthal, who has written several books and was vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, did offer some predictions during his presentation on cybersecurity.
A person’s sense of privacy will eventually be lost completely, he said in response to a question.
“There’s this total compulsion to share the most banal moments of your life with everybody else,” said Lowenthal, now president of the Intelligence & Security Academy, which provides national security education and training. “I was saying to a class the other day, ‘You know, some of your private thoughts are probably not worth posting in 140 characters.’”
Another issue is the uncertainty of who has carried out cyberattacks, he said.
“Pearl Harbor, there were these big circles on the aircraft,” Lowenthal said. “We know who they are. It’s not the Germans, it’s not the Italian fascists, it’s the Japanese. You get a cyberattack,” the culprit isn’t so obvious.
And, he said, not enough people are being trained in cybersecurity.
As an example, Lowenthal mentioned the Target CEO who resigned this year after a massive data breach.
“The problem is that those people are not being trained to do cyber,” he said. “These are IT people who know how to set up a really large IT infrastructure so the Target runs. But they don’t have people sitting there saying, ‘Whoa, what’s that, what does that mean?’”
Germanna has partnered with Lowenthal’s Intelligence & Security Academy to develop a national security program that will offer courses on cybersecurity and other issues.
David Broadhurst, a Germanna consultant and former intelligence official, said the program will be able to customize courses for individual businesses.
“We’ve got these courses within the program ready to go,” Broadhurst said. “Now we’re looking for an audience.”
On a lighter note, Lowenthal admitted that he got into the profession because, simply put, he needed a job.
“I graduated from Harvard University with a Ph.D. in military history during the Vietnam War,” he said. “How’s that for career planning?”