Lesley Carhart talks cybersecurity at Monadnock Summer Lyceum

  • Lesley Carhart speaks about ways to prevent future cyberattacks. —STAFF PHOTO BY JOSH LACAILLADE

  • Cybersecurity specialist Lesley Carhart takes the stage at the Monadnock Summer Lyceum Sunday, Aug. 21. —STAFF PHOTO BY JOSH LACAILLADE

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/22/2022 10:41:36 AM
Modified: 8/22/2022 10:38:04 AM

According to cybersecurity specialist Lesley Carhart, modern technology has greatly affected America’s critical infrastructure and manufacturing systems, but the rise in cyberattacks has lead cybersecurity specialists to meet the financial demands of scammers in order to protect critical systems.

“People are scared of the manufacturing of oil, gas and water treatment being compromised and going away, so they are more willing to do things like pay ransoms and more willing to expend resources to pay off somebody who is extorting them,” said Carhart.

Carhart, who lives in Chicago and works as a principal industrial incident responder for Dragos, Inc., presented “Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure: The Essentials” at Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church Sunday, Aug. 21, to close out Monadnock Summer Lyceum’s 53rd season. The purpose of her lecture was to inform the community about the rise in cyberattacks to the nation’s critical infrastructures and provide recommendations for people to protect their personal information.

Carhart said cyberattacks are a major threat to all local, state and federal systems. She said major systems such as the oil industry require more attention and more funding to better prepare for cyberattacks, and smaller critical systems like municipal water and sewage are some of the least-protected utilities due to a lack of funding and cybersecurity.

As for individuals, Carhart advised audience members on ways to prevent cyberattacks against personal information. First, do not use the same password on every website to prevent scammers from hacking into multiple accounts at once. In addition, download a password manager on any device to keep track of all the different passwords used for personal accounts.

“[Cybersecurity] is a bipartisan issue. It’s an issue that impacts all of us and I’m out here every day facing it,” said Carhart. 

Carhart’s 20-year career in information technology has earned her many awards, including CyberScoop’s “Top Woman in Cybersecurity,” SC Magazine’s “Power Player” and DEF CON “Hacker of the Year.” She served in the Air Force Reserves for more than 15 years working in network infrastructure and cybertransport. She said it’s fulfilling that her knowledge of cybersecurity can positively influence people’s lives.

“It’s so much more impactful than talking to my own bubble of tech people,” said Carhart. “I can talk about [cybersecurity] to people who are interested and engaged in the technical community all week and it won’t matter as much as reaching a few people who hadn’t thought about it.”

After eight weeks of lectures on activism, civil rights, cybersecurity and more, the Monadnock Summer Lyceum’s 53rd season has come to an end. After a two-year COVID-19 hiatus, Lyceum Committee Chair Bob Haring-Smith said he’s proud of all the speakers and community members for bringing the tradition back to Peterborough.

“It’s been an outstanding season. It’s been great seeing people participate in these events,” said Smith.

The next season will begin the last week of June in 2023 . 


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