Campus & Community

Edward Amoroso Takes On Cybersecurity

 Edward Amoroso is keenly aware of the threats facing computer users and has dedicated his life to not only fix the problem but also to inform as many people possible that something needs to be done – and fast.

A respected expert in the field of cybersecurity for the last quarter century, Amoroso, who is an adjunct professor at Stevens Institute of Technology and Senior Vice President and Chief Security Officer for AT&T, has just released his fifth book on the topic.

In "Cyber Attacks: Protecting National Infrastructure," Amoroso makes the compelling points that the current level of security “is not useless, but certainly not addressing the threats we see on a daily basis.”

He acknowledges that his latest book will raise some eyebrows.

It suggests the methodologies we are using are not working,” he said. “Because the threat is more intense, attack teams, people trying to break into networks, or generate spam.”

Amoroso says there needs to be a stronger focus on critical infrastructure.

“The primary goal of the book is to try and wake up the decision makers, the folks who have some responsibility for upgrading infrastructure and running it.”

Amoroso talks of a cyber attack that could have the crippling effects of Sept. 11, 2001, in which essential services – controlled through the Internet – would be compromised and dismantled. This could cause economic ramifications that are felt globally and governments struggling to maintain leadership.

“It’s a very bleak situation and one that deserves national debate,” he said.

Rather than just focus on worst-case scenarios, Amoroso instead offers solutions in his latest book and does so in a way that engages even the most non-technical of readers.

While Amoroso proposes controversial methods such as the deliberate use of deception to trap cyber criminals, he also suggests practical methods like separating internal assets rather than giving criminals “one stop” to access valuable information. He advocates for discretion when it comes to discussing and providing details of security technology used to keep out the criminals.

 Amoroso, it seems, has always had a unique view into the world of cybersecurity.

His father was a math professor at Stevens for nearly 30 years who, in 1965 earned a PhD. in Computer Science. Through his father’s work, Amoroso was able to meet and learn from many of the pioneers in computer science including Peter Neumann.

When he went to college to study physics, Amoroso remembers using the Internet’s precursor ARPANET for “goofing off, playing games.” His father, seeing the direction the computer industry was going, began to talk about security issues and Amoroso took notice.

He earned his Masters and PhD. in computer science at Stevens while working at Bell Labs. Security issues he tackled with his team were “as esoteric as you could imagine” and for a decade they worked on projects that earned little notice outside of a few banks and the Federal government.

However in the mid-1990s when more and more people began living their lives online and using personal computers to connect with others, Amoroso said suddenly everyone became interested in their works.

For the last 20 years Amoroso has also taught at Stevens and has seen a similar curve in the interest of students. His first class had students who were “marginally interested” in the subject matter.

“This past semester I had 65 students that are savvy, have experience and ask questions that challenge me,” he said. Even while his career has progressed, being in the classroom has remained an enjoyable experience, Amoroso stated, because the students fire difficult questions at him and keep him on his toes.

Amoroso will be on campus Tuesday, February 8 leading a discussion entitled: Protecting National Infrastructure from Cyber Attack. Click here to learn more or RSVP.