Saturday, April 19, 2014

Phishing is Like Fishing - A Fitting Finale to Our UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series

Where has the academic year gone?

We are now in the final weeks of a very busy semester and yesterday we had the pleasure of hosting my colleague, Dr. Ryan Wirght, of the Operations & Information Management Department, in our UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series, which the students of this award-winning chapter, help me to organize.

This year we hosted 6 speakers, including Dr. Michael Fu of the Smith School at the University of Maryland, Dr. Les Servi of MITRE (both of whom I saw at the recent INFORMS Analytics Conference in Boston), as well as Dr. Mary Helander of IBM (who, coincidentally, was involved in helping to organize the same conference in terms of speaker selection), as well as Dr. Eric Gonzales, a recent great addition to the UMass Amherst faculty, who had been at Rutgers,and Dr. Adams Steven, another colleague of mine, who received hid PhD from the Smith School last year.

Yesterday, was the grand finale, since it was the last speaker of our academic year!

Dr. Wright's talk was on: “Towards a Behavioral Model of Online Deception Detection."

The audience consisted of students from the Isenberg School of Management and the College of Engineering as well as faculty. Dr. Wright began his lecture with an overview of the cybersecurity failures at both Target and Adobe and associated financial and reputational costs and took us on a journey of how to build a human firewall to combat such attacks. 

He shared with us his research, which is behavioral, and includes experiments (often with undergraduates as subjects),  and findings, published in top IS journals, on phishing and human susceptibility and vulnerability, along with effective response training, including mindfulness training. The insights garnered are fascinating. Needless to say, the audience had many questions, always a sign of an outstanding speaker and presentation. 

Top lesson:  be aware and think before you click on a "suspicious" link. Don't use technology mindlessly.

I took the following photos of  Dr. Wright lecturing yesterday and with some of the audience members. Given that it was a Friday, and Monday is Patriot's Day here is Massachusetts, which is a holiday, plus the day of the running of the Boston Marathon, we were so pleased that the talk attracted a standing room only audience.

And, yes, the second photo below, illustrated an analogy between phishing and fishing - think of that url as a "hook."

I always say, you have a great topic and speaker, you promote it appropriately, and we did, and they will come!

I have written tips on organizing a successful Speaker Series, which you can accessed here.