George Beebe

vice president and director of studies, Center for National Interest (USA)

George Beebe is one of America's most well-informed and insightful experts on international affairs and foreign policy. He has an especially strong background in cyber security, US intelligence, US-Russia relations, and the challenges of the changing international order. George Beebe is Vice President and Director of Studies at the Center for National Interest. He is former President of BehaviorMatrix LLC, a technology company that measured audience response to events, issues, and commercial brands. His new book (August 2019), The Russia Trap: How Our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral into Nuclear Catastrophe, examines how changing technology, the dysfunctional politics, garbled communications, and unsettled regional conflicts are combining to trap the US and Russia in a disastrous escalation spiral neither one wants or expects. George has spent more than two decades in government service as an intelligence analyst, diplomat, and policy advisor. A speaker of both Russian and German, he was the director of the CIA's Russia analysis and Special Advisor to Vice President Cheney for Russia/Eurasia and Intelligence Programs. He also is well versed in the challenges the US faces in North Korea and the Middle East. George speaks with unparalleled authority on cyber security and information warfare. He brings to his presentations a unique combination of expertise in technology, experience with intelligence practice, and connections with the intelligence community.

George Beebe will be speaking on the following topic:

Keynote Lessons from failure: How cyber security professionals can learn from analytic mistakes in other fields

One of the most difficult challenges that cyber security professionals face is to anticipate and counter attacks by adversaries. The implications of failure are often enormous. But the odds against success are stacked by the inherent uncertainties in any complex system, the unpredictability of human behaviour, and the cognitive biases to which all analysts are prone, regardless of their area of expertise. Nonetheless, there is good news: Cyber specialists can learn lessons from past failures that increase their odds of success. In this eye-opening interactive talk, former CIA senior executive George Beebe shows how to apply those lessons in practical ways:

  • The process of becoming an expert in a field also makes experts less able to anticipate disruptions to the normal course of events.
  • To reduce their risks of surprise, cyber security professionals should learn lessons from mistakes made by experts in other fields.
  • These lessons include:
  •  Seeking alternative explanations for emerging developments;
  • Looking to disconfirm rather than to support plausible analytic hypotheses; and

Attempting to see things through the eyes of potential adversaries.

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