Healthcare industry talks cybersecurity at third annual Pace University conference

The third annual cybersecurity conference took place at Pace University’s Westchester campus on Thursday, October 3, 2019. The conference included a set of panelists and speakers from many top East Coast organizations and a guest appearance from a canine cybercrime specialist.

This year’s focus was the Economics of Cybersecurity in Healthcare: Understanding the Costs of Cyber Exposure to Protect Enterprises and Patients.

After a networking breakfast, the Dean of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, Jonathan Hill, welcomed guests and spoke about the work being done at Pace University. “Pace University is doing a lot to address the [cyber] threat today,” he said.

President Marvin Krislov also gave remarks, noting that “healthcare is the largest sector in the Westchester economy,” – an economy which Pace University contributes nearly $360 million to, it was recently announced.

The conference got started with an opening conversation between Jennings Aske, the Senior VP and CISO at NewYork-Presbyterian, and Anthony Johnson, Managing Partner at Delve Risk. The topic of the conversation was a threat briefing on the healthcare landscape. Jennings and Anthony dove into a fascinating discussion on risk management, patient privacy, and leading cybersecurity initiatives.

After the discussion, the Dean of the College of Health Professions, Harriet Feldman, took to the podium to discuss the industry outlook. “The intersection of technology and healthcare could not be more important than it is now,” she said.

Following was a new addition to our conference program – an interactive cyberattack exercise. The exercise was run by Shawn Fohs, Managing Director of Forensics US Cyber Response & Privacy Leader, Ernst & Young; Kevin M. McGuire, the Commissioner at Westchester County Department of Social Services; Jonathan Bandel, Assistant VP for Strategic Service Lines at White Plains Hospital, Robert Largey, Co-Founder of East Post Road Ventures, LLC, the Innovation Accelerator Arm of White Plains Hospital, and Pace University’s very own Kit Lee-Demery, the Assistant Director for Emergency Management and Fire Safety.

The session consisted of a tabletop exercise that aimed to create an opportunities for conference attendees – stakeholders within the healthcare critical infrastructure sector – to enhance their understanding of key issues associated with a focused cyberattack, including coordination and information sharing amongst private entities and government agencies in response to such an attack. Participants got to come up with a response to a fake, albeit plausible, cyberattack based on current plans, policies, and procedures. It involved contact from the FBI, hacking from malicious agencies, increasing panic, media scandals, and stolen information – all the makings of a quality drama!

Once the exercise was finished, the first panel discussion of the day took place over lunch. The panel, titled Quantification of Risk Management of the Healthcare Enterprise, included guests Michael Corcione, Managing Director at Treliant Risk Advisors and Robert Zandoli, Global CISO and Chief Technology Officer at BUNGE LTD, both of whom are Pace alumni. Co-Founder and CEO of Sovy, John Popolizio completed the group alongside moderator and Seidenberg School faculty member, Li-Chiou Chen.

No cybersecurity conference at Pace is complete without an appearance from our four-legged friend, Harley the Cyber Dog. As in previous years, Westchester County Police Department’s Detective Brett Hochron and his K9 partner Harley gave a demonstration of Harley’s skills at sniffing out cybercrime. Trained to detect a particular chemical scent present in many tech devices, Harley is capable of discovering hidden USBs, SD cards, smartphones, and more – even if they are very carefully hidden. Detective Hochron explained that, as Harley only eats when she successfully finds a hidden device, she associates working with a worthy reward, making her quite possibly one of the happiest professionals in the cybersecurity industry.

Prior to the demonstration, Detective Hochron hid several devices around the conference room, including a micro USB taped to an electrical outlet and another one tucked under a pillow. Harley found them all within minutes.

Harley’s training has enabled her to assist police and the FBI’s cyber crime unit in convicting criminals. When police conduct physical searches, they may miss evidence that is hidden under floorboards, in electronic sockets, inside furniture, and other imaginative locations. Dogs like Harley are able to provide the backup that ensures no laptop is left unturned or undiscovered.

The final panel of the day looked to the past, present, and future. The panel was titled the Evolution of the Cybersecurity Program for the Healthcare Enterprise and featured Chris Hetner, Managing Director of Marsh Risk Consulting’s Cyber Risk Consulting; Steven Goriah, DHA, CHCIO, FACHE, VP of Information Technology/CIO, Chief Information Security Officer at Westchester Medical Health Network, Seidenberg professor and digital forensics expert Darren Hayes; and Jennings Aske, SVP and CISO at NewYork-Presbyterian. Seidenberg professor and Associate Dean, Jim Gabberty, moderated the discussion.

Following the panel, Dean Jonathan Hill gave his closing remarks and the conference was open for guests to network and meet with panelists.

We are grateful to our sponsor, Treliant, for the generous support in making this conference a success.

Thanks also go to Detective Brett Hochron of Westchester County Police Department for another fantastic presentation with Harley.

Tech Leadership Series: Daniel Barchi, SEM, SVP, CIO of Newyork-Presbyterian

The fall semester may be coming to an end but the Seidenberg Tech Leadership Series is showing no sign of slowing down! Events are already being scheduled for the spring, but for the tail end of the fall semester we had a fantastic guest: Daniel Barchi, SEM, SVP, and CIO of Newyork-Presbyterian.

Over the course of his career, Daniel has taken on the role of Chief Information Officer for numerous health care systems: Carilion Health System, Yale New Haven Health System, Yale School of Medicine, and currently New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Before taking on these high level positions, Barchi acted as a Naval Officer in the US Navy for six years. He was even awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for his leadership.

Testament to Daniel’s career and expertise was a great turnout of students who came to the Seidenberg School’s NYC campus the day before finals week. Despite escalating stress levels, around a hundred students stopped by to learn from our guest.

As with previous events, Daniel spent around an hour talking tech and leadership in conversation with Seidenberg Dean Jonathan Hill. Dean Hill quizzed the CIO about various aspects of his work, including the importance of technology in the healthcare industry, strategy, telemedicine and remote healthcare, and more.

One of the interesting remarks Daniel had was about technology’s importance regarding running a business. He said that he believed that running Newyork-Presbyterian – and other industries – successfully was built from a blend of “80% people, 15% process, 5% technology.”

“That 5% technology is important,” Daniel added, telling a story of how just that morning there had been a tech blackout in one of the locations his department serves. Despite technology just being a small part of the entire ecosystem, if that 5% goes down, the whole system fails – which is why Daniel and his staff work hard to get everything back up and running as quickly as possible. The people and process enable responses like that to happen.

“Technology is like an iceberg,” Daniel continued. “There’s only a tiny bit of an iceberg poking up out of the surface . . . as a technologist I need to make sure that bottom part is working well, out of sight and out of mind.”

As users, we tend to just care about the parts we interact with. “Everybody is focused on that 5% that’s above the surface,” Daniel said. Maintaining the larger 95% is what allows users to interact with systems without worry.

Dean Hill then asked about Daniel’s technology strategy.

“My job as the CIO is not about talking about the bits and bytes . . . it’s the strategy side of it . . . where do we invest our dollars, our resources, and our people.”

Part of the strategy is also developing new tech advancements. Daniel spoke at length about the cool things Newyork-Presbyterian was doing for medical staff and patients alike, including telemedicine initiatives like having physicians interact with patients over video calls and asking questions that got them to self-diagnose and allow the doctor to give treatment without being there in person.

Through this technology, Daniel revealed that physicians had “diagnosed three instances of appendicitis this month alone.”

Did he think computers would replace the need for human doctors entirely? “We think that the physician or nurse PLUS the computer is better.” Although artificial intelligence is getting to the stage where using computers to diagnose and treat medical issues is becoming more and more possible, the nuance of the human mind is a crucial aspect to identifying and understanding the small distinctions that differentiate between similarly presenting issues.

AI is a field with plenty of potential, not just in terms of technologically and career-wise, but financially too. “Artificial intelligence right now is like the gold rush in California was in 1849,” Daniel said. The key was to position oneself in the best place to capitalize from the technology. “Who made the money in the gold rush? The people who sold the picks and shovels.”

“What should these students be doing to prepare themselves for a career in this area,” Dean Hill asked.

“I’m a fan of people moving in their careers,” Daniel said. “If you think about your professors here who might have had a career in business and moved on to come here – people who have had training in one area can use their skills to move into another area.”

At the Seidenberg School and at Pace University, we always encourage our students to diversify what they learn. Knowing more than one area, and learning how to apply skills from one field into another, is what helps get jobs across different areas. Daniel affirmed that this was key to working in the tech sector today.

One area that is expected to remain current for the foreseeable future is cybersecurity.

“I’m always concerned about information security,” Daniel said. “We have about 8.5 million patient records . . . we have to keep it safe. There are always people that are trying to hack into our networks. You know better than most audiences that while we’ve been talking here we’ve probably had three penetration attempts into our systems.”

Daniel revealed that on the past weekend he had been in a long phone call when a hacker had attempted to penetrate their system with a version of the Wannacry virus – seven attempts in all – but the team managed to take care of it.

One of the last things Dr. Hill asked Daniel about was also related to security, but along a different vein. “Is privacy possible?” Dean Hill asked, “Or is the way the internet was built so open that perfect security is a pipe dream?”

Daniel replied with insights that many Pace students and internet users should pay attention to. “People make choices about what they put online . . . if going on vacation and posting where I am and pictures of myself is one end of the spectrum . . . banking online . . . is another end of the spectrum too.”

As users, we choose what we put online, whether it’s vacation location tagging on social media (that indicates our homes are currently empty) or our personal information on banking websites, investment accounts, and more.

“We can all make choices to make ourselves safer,” Daniel remarked.

But the truth is that the more we engage with the internet the more we put ourselves at risk.

The conversation closed up with a few final thoughts from Daniel. He encouraged students to go into careers doing things they loved, but if they could find ways to apply those passions to other areas, they could potentially excel. “If you love coding . . . for those of you who want to use it as a platform to do other things, I would encourage you to push the boundaries.”

Sharing one of his favorite quotes, Daniel illustrated his point.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage

  • Anaïs Nin

We’d like to thank Daniel Barchi for his stellar appearance at the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University. The Seidenberg Tech Leadership series is one of our top event series that puts our students in front of exceptional leaders in the industry, and Daniel’s genial presence was perfect for bringing calm before the end of the semester.