background image
extreme Luddite. But what we can do is
make things very difficult for the hackers.
People tend to think of security as an ab-
solute, but it's a relative concept."
The most likely way for individuals to be
violated in cyberspace is through attacks on
corporations entrusted to protect databases
often with millions of customers' names.
Eric Wischman, '00 and '01, is vice presi-
dent for the Risk Governance and Adminis-
tration Office at M&T Bank, the largest
bank in Western New York and 17th-
largest in the nation. But he doesn't believe
financial institutions are at any greater risk
of cyber attacks than other companies.
"M&T takes very seriously the security
needs of all of our customers, but plenty of
other places are more likely to be attacked
because they might be a little less prepared
than a bank is," Wischman said. "Cyberse-
curity is critical for all industries because
customer data is everywhere."
As recently as five years ago, cybersecurity
was "more of an annoyance," Meyer ad-
mitted, but the scope of the Target and
Home Depot hacks scared executives
"That's why I know this (academic pro-
gram) is such a rich area to mine. It went
from an annoyance to `Oh my gosh!'''
Meyer said. "Sirius has 29 million sub-
scribers. We have another 10 to 12 million
trial users constantly because they bought
either a new or used car in which our serv-
ice is available.
"The vast majority want to pay by credit
card, and the vast majority want to deal
with us via an online process. So we don't
have a choice -- 100% of them expect
their transactions to be secure and to-
tally protected."
How significantly has SiriusXM's IT
staff increased over the last five years?
"The right word is a lot," Meyer
said with a laugh. "And it's not just
our own staff. I think we have no less
than three outside consultants helping
us every day with this process, includ-
ing one of them who is simply hired
to see what they can do to us."
In other words, companies are hir-
ing consultants whose sole mission is
to hack into their databases to see
how vulnerable they are. In fact,
learning how to hack into computer
systems will be part of the curriculum
in the university's new program.
"You need to know how to hack
things so you know how to prevent
hacking," said Andrianoff, director of
SBU's cybersecurity program.
The professional careers of McDon-
ald and Meyer have spanned the
breadth of the computer's impact on
the business world -- for the better,
most certainly, but the remarkable ad-
vances have come at a price.
"Everyone is at risk," McDonald
said. "I don't think I've seen a risk
management issue like cybersecurity
in my 35 years in the workplace.
Everyone uses technology. Every or-
ganization of every size."
And almost every person, too.
"Connectivity is the way I speak to
my loved ones, the way I speak with
my business, the way I transact my
life," Meyer said. "At its fundamental
core, we have built a very sophisti-
cated infrastructure in this world that
is fully connected, and that's where
the weakness is. That's what makes us
all so vulnerable and why a program
in cybersecurity is such a great oppor-
tunity for St. Bonaventure."
WINTER 2015-16