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Penn State competitive event simulates large-scale hack and system breach

Posted on March 1, 2019

CARLISLE, Pa. — Data breaches and cyber hacks are a major concern for businesses, organizations, and governments. Hacks disrupt operations, put sensitive information at risk, harm an organization’s reputation, jeopardize national security and cost the economy billions of dollars each year. If your organization was hacked, would you know what to do?

Register today to participate in the 2019 Penn State Hack Response Simulation Competition, to be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Mar. 13, at the Technology Support Building, 300 Science Park Rd., State College, Pennsylvania. Jointly developed by Penn State’s Dickinson Law and multiple units from across Penn State, this competitive simulation is designed to help faculty develop interdisciplinary educational approaches to hacks, and to teach students how to understand the full-range of necessary steps to address and minimize harm from security breaches.

“When businesses face hacks or deal with hack-related litigation, we frequently see a disconnect between tech teams, law folks and business personnel,” said Anne Toomey McKenna, Distinguished Scholar of Cyber Law, Dickinson Law, and professor of practice with the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences, who spearheaded the design of the simulation. “That disconnect often results in unintended and costly consequences, including extensive legal fines. That disconnect starts with how we silo education. Tech stays in tech lanes, and law stays in law lanes. That no longer works. Merged knowledge of cyber technology, legal compliance, and business and communication is now required to avoid these costly pitfalls. Fortunately, here at Penn State, many units recognize the critical need for interdisciplinary education.”

No technical, legal or communications background is required to participate in the hack. Faculty, students, staff and invited guests from technology, law, and business/communication units will work together on interdisciplinary teams to plan, share knowledge and respond — technically and legally — to a high-level hack that occurs through a simple phishing email. Then they will listen to experts from a diverse array of disciplines walk through what is the right response, each step of the way.

The closed cyber hack simulation will involve a hack and system breach and theft of data that potentially consists of the following data: PII, biometric data, medical data, and national security information.

This event is open to all Penn State faculty, staff, students and invited guests. It is free to attend. Breakfast and lunch are included with registration. Space is limited; early registration is strongly encouraged.


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