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Seminar:  Operation Olympic Games: History and Future Impact

Date:September 16, 2013 
Talk Title:Operation Olympic Games: History and Future Impact
Speaker:Rick Howard, CISO, TASC
Time & Location:12:00pm - 1:00pm
CIC Building, Pittsburgh


The West’s use of cyber weapons against the Iranian nuclear program changed the security landscape forever. How we developed and deployed those weapons is equally as important as the waves of worldwide change the operation caused in its wake. The initial “Stuxnet” story ran its course in the press from June 2010 until the end of 2011. In the summer of 2012, David Sanger published his book, “Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of Military Power” where he provided previously unknown details about Operation Olympic Games: a joint cyber operation between the US and Israel for the purpose of degrading the uranium enrichment capability in Iran. Since then, the press has been publishing bits and pieces of the story; most recently George Bamford in the July 2013 issue of Wired Magazine. But nobody has put the entire story together in one place until now. This talk will tell the entire story from beginning to end, discusses the impact to the cyber security community in general and highlight the potential implications to the world at large at having the US and Israel successfully execute a cyber warfare campaign against a sovereign state. The details of how the West developed and deployed cyber weapons against Iran is fascinating and represents a major milestone for the cyber security community along the same lines as Operation Aurora (Cyber Espionage), TJMax (Cyber Crime), and LulzSEC (Cyber Hactivism). It reads like a Tom Clancy novel with years of R&D, targeted reconnaissance, hacking, sabotage and assassination. The impact to the world is that the game has changed. No longer is Cyber Warfare merely possible. The US and Israel have demonstrated that it is a viable middle ground option between sanctions on one side and bombing and/or occupation on the other. The issue at hand is that this new tool has two sides. Yes, the west has a new way to influence political outcomes. But that means that other nation states will not hesitate to use that tool in the future either. The impact to US security implications is unclear but it cannot be good. The impact to commercial sector is that for the first time, you have to really add cyber warfare to the list of threats that may impact your business.

Speaker Bio

Rick is the TASC Chief Information Security Officer and leads the development of TASC’s strategic vision, security architecture and technical roadmaps for information security. Prior to joining TASC, Rick led the Verisign iDefense Cyber Security Intelligence business as the GM and Intelligence Director in charge of a multinational network of security experts who delivered cyber security intelligence products to Fortune 500 companies. He also led the intelligence-gathering activities at Counterpane Internet Security and ran Counterpane's global network of Security Operations Centers. He served in the US Army for 23 years in various command and staff positions involving information technology and computer security and spent the last 2 years of his career as the US Army's Computer Emergency Response Team Chief (ACERT). He coordinated network defense, network intelligence and network attack operations for the Army's global network and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2004. Rick holds a Master of Computer Science degree from the Naval Postgraduate School and an engineering degree from the US Military Academy. He also taught computer science at the Academy from 1990 to 1995. He has published many academic papers on technology and security and has contributed as an executive editor to two books: “Cyber Fraud: Tactics, Techniques and Procedures” and “Cyber Security Essentials.”