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ONUG conference to highlight cybersecurity and data protection

At the ONUG fall conference on Oct. 22 to 23, attendees will learn how enterprises can secure assets in a digital economy and how automation, cybersecurity and data protection fit in.

The ONUG community has followed the progression of digital transformation since digital transformation became a thing. Now, as enterprises undertake this transformation and enter the digital economy, ONUG aims to help them face related issues like automation, cybersecurity and data protections.

ONUG, a user-focused community that caters to IT professionals, will discuss these issues and more at its fall conference in New York City on Oct. 22 to 23.

"This ONUG conference is about how applications are built, how new digital revenues are derived and what the steps are to protect those assets and mitigate the new risk profiles that come with every new generation of technology," ONUG co-founder and co-chair Nick Lippis said.

Nick Lippis, ONUG co-founder and co-chairNick Lippis

With enterprises becoming more digitally oriented, IT and networking teams are compelled to adjust in order to better support business demands. As a result, many are looking to cloud-based technologies, machine learning, AI, IoT and other trends to piece together a software-defined infrastructure.

"The digital age is really all about how to create new capabilities and capacities within the enterprise that allow corporations to move into digital markets faster, while also gaining higher market evaluations and margins," Lippis said.

As more enterprises tackle these digital initiatives, the digital economy grows. Lippis cited market research that indicates 41% of enterprise revenue will come from digital products and services by 2020. As for employees, he said the U.S. Department of Labor currently counts 44 million people employed in the digital economy.

"If you look at the digital economy as a percentage of the overall GDP, it's growing about three times faster than GDP is growing," he said.

The need for cybersecurity and data protection discussions

Understanding how to secure the enterprise is crucial in this transition to a digital economy, especially with the continuing onslaught of data breaches, product vulnerabilities and malware attacks.

We can't move into this digital economy without rethinking cybersecurity.
Nick Lippisco-founder and co-chair, ONUG

"We can't move into this digital economy without rethinking cybersecurity," Lippis said. "And it can't be an afterthought as so many other transformations have been in our industry."

Enterprises can start to think about cybersecurity and data protection by reevaluating how their security groups are organized, for example, or by ensuring their security teams interact with application developers and infrastructure, Lippis said.

"We need a whole new way in how you protect the assets of a corporation," he said. "Something might go wrong because of a bad configuration somewhere, or it could go wrong because you got hacked." That's where monitoring and analytics, along with automation and orchestration, can act as vital tools to provide insight into potential issues, he added.

But truly addressing cybersecurity and data protection requires more than enterprise participation. Technology vendors should be more responsible for products that get hacked or exposed, he said. The conversation should also discuss the federal government's role and court reforms in both Congress and state legislatures. These reforms, for example, could address enterprises that become exposed due to insecure products.

"So, when a company does get hacked, it can warn others about what's going on without the fear of massive lawsuits, shareholder lawsuits or their stock being hammered in the stock market," he said.

What to expect in ONUG conference sessions

The ONUG fall conference sessions will include discussions on how to secure the internet -- with a focus on block stacks, which apply blockchain and distributed registries to routing tables, domain name system lookups and other internet functions -- and software-defined WAN with cloud-based security.

Jean Schaffer, chief information security officer and chief of cyber and enterprise operations at Defense Intelligence Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, will present a keynote on cybersecurity at scale.

"[Schaffer] deals with security issues at a level and scale that would frighten any mere mortal," Lippis said. While enterprises might not encounter the same scale of threats, they can hear a different perspective on how to mitigate exploits and invest in similar approaches "knowing they scale as their threat or risk profile changes over time," he said.

Another keynote speaker includes Chris Inglis, former deputy director for the National Security Agency who currently teaches cybersecurity at the U.S. Naval Academy and serves as a FedEx board member. His keynote will cover what corporate boards demand IT teams do in order to protect corporations as they move into the digital domain, while also addressing how those IT professionals can actually carry out those plans, Lippis said.

Attendees also have the option to attend courses during the conference that focus on skill sets needed for automation, infrastructure as code, APIs and service meshes.

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