Speaker Interview with Independent Digital Strategy Consultant Lars Hilse

Lucas Wijntjes Cyber Security

Today we are publishing an interview with Independent Digital Strategy Consultant and Cyber Security Summit speaker Lars Hilse. We couldn’t have picked a better time to speak to each other, as it was amidst the mayor Skype outage of last year. Although the cause of the outage wasn’t attributed to malicious cyber activity; it did show the impact an event like that can have on a company as well as people around the world.

During our Cyber Security event in Prague this spring, Lars will share with the audience his views on the future of Cyber-Terrorism through some real case studies around the cyber attacks on Natanz and TV5 Monde.

Learn more about Lars Hilse and the topic of his presentation below:

Before we dig into the content of your presentation, could please share a little bit about yourself and your background?

My background is quite turbulent. In my teens I was involved in what would today be referred to as “hacking”. I was exposed to my first computer when I was 9 years old, I believe. In the 90s, there was nothing of interest to me, that I could make money with, so therefore I took my “excursion” into the German insurance sector, where I completed my vocational training before specializing in corporate and industrial risks.

Around 2006 I left the insurance sector altogether and returned to my passion, computers, and started “Deutsche Webdesign”, which was a quality and innovation focused web design firm and as the first firm around the globe included such things as responsive design, accessibility, SEO/SEM, and first aspects of revenue increasing measures like shopping cart abandonment.

Since 2008 I’ve been consulting in this field on a freelance basis, having created well over USD $1 billion increased revenue for my clients, among which are AXA, BNP Paribas and Ferrari.

My passion for Cyber Security had always played a role, but I only started commercializing it in 2011 after my research revealed the possibility of using the anonymizing characteristics of the dark web and bitcoin for criminal/terrorist activities.

Since then, I have financed research worth well over USD $250k to point out the vulnerabilities existing in the ever increasing amount of network connected infrastructure, and putting them into context to other contributing vectors such as decreasing quality in operating systems and software running these systems.

The topic of your keynote presentation is Natanz, TV5 Monde, and the future of global Cyber Terrorism. Could you please elaborate on what you will be presenting during the event?

Natanz was probably the first noteworthy cyber-physical attack, in which the barrier between cyber and physical instruments (network connected infrastructure) was breached.

The attack on TV5MONDE, in which their 11 satellite feeds were cut and their social media channels taken over, was pretty much along the line of what I published in an article called “ISIS Cyber Terrorism Analysis”, which outlined this attack vector.

What these attacks had in common, also with the attack on the German Chancellery a few months later, was that they were all based on social engineering, meaning that the exploit was delivered by email or otherwise introduced by human elements inside the target.

This, combined with the factors outlined before, presents a grave threat to organizations. My keynote will focus on explaining this combination of threats, along with other possibilities in cybercrime which are increased by the anonymizing characteristics of the dark web and bitcoin.

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What do you believe is the #1 takeaway of your presentation for those attending the event?

Hardly anyone is aware of the impact these hacks can have. Furthermore, the problem is that the hardware connected infrastructure is largely controlled by digital illiterates.

Imagine this very realistic scenario: the internet is down on a large scale. Payments and transactions are disrupted. The traffic management systems don’t work. Travel is disrupted significantly. The stock markets have to shut down. Supply chains collapse. Deliveries of crucial goods are inhibited. Within a matter of days, the western world would come to a grinding halt. This threat is very real today.

Having attended and/or spoken at several events, what advice can you give attendees that want to make the most out of their attendance?

I myself am usually so busy that I work, even when I am at events. My life is about efficiency so therefore I will be paying attention, but usually be working during other speeches and taking notes while taking care of other things.

The content presented can be reviewed online at a later stage. Conferences like this are about networking, meeting people and networking with them… Gaining access to people you would otherwise have no access to. And creating friendships, of which I have many from the numerous conferences I have attended.

Please visit the official Cyber Security Summit web page if you want to meet Lars Hilse in person and listen to his presentation.