MSU alum speaks at Security Matters Conference | Local News | #malware | #ransomware


MURRAY – Wes Spencer, the co-founder and CISO of Perch Security and an alumnus of Murray State University, was the guest speaker at the Security Matters Conference held on April, 21 at the Murray State University Curris Center. 

Spencer told a story of a ransomware breach in an unnamed insurance agency. Since the perpetrators deleted the backups, it took more than $1 million to stop the ransom. In the forensic aftermath, the business owner saw that the entry point of the breach was a phishing email which occurred 30 days before the ransomeware attack. Phishing is the practice of tricking internet users through deceptive emails or fraudulent websites into revealing personal information which would be used criminally. 

Spencer said that businesses who don’t prioritize cyber security could possibly see all their hard work go down the drain. Companies can prevent and address the problem of ransomware through the use of cybersecurity. Ransomware is what a hacker slips into a system, and then the hacker puts encryption controls in place that locks the users out.  

What’s the actual damage to the business software? On average, it takes 16 days of downtime after a ransomware attack to get your data back. And in this time, this could mean reputation damage and a sizable amount of money lost.

“The source of insider threat is not malice, it’s ignorance,” Spencer said. “We’re in 2022 and phishing is still an entry point. It’s because there’s a human element of weakness in this.” 

The program Stellar uses the proof of consensus technology which follows the byzantine generals problem. Stellar is a platform released in 2014 with the aim of utilizing a blockchain to provide more accessible financial services to people worldwide. 

The Byzantine army problem is the story of a general trying to determine whether there is a traitor or traitors in the line of generals. In the story, several divisions of the Byzantine army are camped outside an enemy city, each division commanded by its own general. The generals can communicate with one another only by messenger. After observing the enemy, they must decide upon a common plan of action. 

In terms of protective software, the separate parts of the program need to reach a consensus. All the ‘generals’ in the program are set up to communicate with each other in depth to safeguard information.  

Spencer explained that the ‘bad guys’ behind these cyber threats are no longer little kids with nerd glasses. These pirates are organized criminals and nation states who’re motivated to steal your money and your information. 

Spencer concluded his presentation with a slide of an empty bank lobby where people left deep indentations on the marble tiles from the amount of foot traffic. He said, “The days of the old school systems are gone. It’s all online now and it’s innovating in so many ways.” 



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