By Bary Alyssa Johnson ( | First Posted: Aug 23, 2012 03:44 PM EDT

(Photo : Polytechnic Institute of New York University )

In a bid to help increase awareness on the increasing threat of cyber-attacks on the United States and its government agencies, Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) will join forces with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to host a crucial discussion amongst a number of key individuals familiar with the topic.

Former director of the National Security Council Debora A. Plunkett will lead two open lectures sponsored by the Sloan Foundation on the NYU-Poly downtown Brooklyn campus on Friday September 7th. Registration for the event is now open and available through the NYU-Poly Web site. For those who are unable to make it to the event in-person, the talks will be streamed live and can be accessed here.

Plunkett, who currently oversees the National Security Agency's (NSA) directorate responsible for protecting critical information and information systems will first and foremost call for a strong, organized game plan to confront the growing cyber threats. In her second lecture, Plunkett will encourage officials from government, academia and private industry to come together to collaborate on effective measures for increasing cyber security.

Plunkett will be joined by expert panelists to debate this critical threat following her talk "Defending Cyberspace: Are We Ready?" Among those who will join her for the discussion, are: Joanne Martin, vice president for information technology risk at IBM, Bill Phelps, managing director and leader of North American security consulting firm Accenture and William J. Wansley, senior vice president of advanced assessment and remediation at technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

Nasir Memon, director of NYU-Poly's Information Systems and Internet Security Lab will chair the event and moderate the panel. Also there representing NYU-Poly will be University president Jerry M. Hultin, a former undersecretary of the Navy who led a post-9/11 study on port security in New York and New Jersey.

"As one of the nation's first institutions to offer a cyber-security graduate degree, NYU-Poly has been a leader in educating the next generation of cyber protectors," Hultin said in a statement. "It's time to acknowledge the urgency of the cyber threat to deploy high-impact solutions across all sectors.

To put the level of threat to cyber security in perspective, NSA director Gen. Keith B. Alexander cited a 17-fold increase in the attacks on the nation's infrastructure between 2009 and 2011 during a speech in July. Another troubling warning, Alexander also noted that the level of preparedness for a "serious" cyber-attack on a critical part of the U.S. infrastructure is "around a three" on a scale of one-to-ten.

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