Theresa Payton spent part of this week with her old boss, former President George W. Bush. She once was part of the staff assigned to support the president’s office on all things cyber.

After visiting Bush, the former White House chief information officer flew to Des Moines to tell the hundreds gathered at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center for the Technology Association of Iowa’s inaugural Iowa Technology Summit about her years of trying to keep hackers out of some of the world’s most sensitive computer files.

And she boiled a lot of it down to this: “The goal needed to be for security to ask, 'How do you design for the human psyche? Does the security create a roadblock? Or does it create a warm hug around the user?' ”

She told appalling stories about experiments in which she and an intern went to a coffee shop so she could show him how she could hack his system. She told him to bring his Wi-Fi Pineapple, a security device.

They didn’t want to hack anyone else so they first used Payton’s suggestion of setting up a nonpublic connection and giving it an unappealing name -- “fake wifi.” A bunch of bank workers were in the room. “As soon as I fired up the 'fake wifi,' six people connected,” Payton noted.

The intern told her to shut it down. He renamed the private Wi-Fi connection “data stealer,” thinking that surely would keep people away. “Eight people connected,” Payton noted.

Here are some tips from Payton, who now is president and CEO of Fortalice Solutions: 

  • — Segment your computer system to save it.
  • — Come up with a “kill switch” -- perhaps a way to shut down and isolate the system that is hacked -- to spare the larger network.
  • Practice responding to a disaster. Here, she included in “disaster” having a reporter show up on the company grounds demanding to interview the CEO on camera after an incident.
  • Do regular “walkabouts” to look for trouble.
  • Resist unneeded regulations. “I don’t think we need a bunch of new laws. They are a burden to business.”