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CyberSecurity at Risk Part 1: Growing Threats

Paul Quanrud is a writer and blogger with American Citizens for Economic Freedom (http://truecapitalism.org/). 

 

This is the first in a two-part series on growing threats and strategies in the Internet age. CyberSecurity at Risk Part 1: Growing Threats demonstrates the rising impact of CyberCrime on business and that CyberWarfare is a key military strategy our enemies are quickly grasping. CyberSecurity at Risk Part 2: Changing the Rules Again shows the national security strategies to protect our vital interests.

 

The digital revolution has turned mainstream. Just 30 years after the first PC, we celebrate progress with each new iPhone and iPad release. Facebook was the highly publicized initial public offering of stock for 2012. Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates are household names.

 

Hazards of the same digital age have also gone mainstream as many of us experience identity theft, online scams, computer viruses, and online predators. With the growth of social media and mobile devices providing new opportunities for criminals to ambush the unsuspecting, the Cyber world is a dangerous place for our citizens and nation.

 

Cyber threats take on two primary forms:

 

CyberCrime makes big money from industrial espionage, fraud, spam, viruses, and more. Symantec estimates the cost of CyberCrime is $338 billion globally. Cybercrime is more lucrative than the drug trade.[1] There has been a dramatic rise in attacks on small businesses over the last six months while the attacks on large businesses have declined; 36% of attacks are now on small business.[2]

 

CyberWarfare has been on the rise more than a decade with the objectives of achieving a battlefield advantage and dominating covert operations. The U.S. and Israel developed the computer virus Stuxnet to secretly disrupt Iran’s uranium enrichment process. Stuxnet accidentally “escaped” due to a programming error and was discovered in 2010. In a New York Times article, author David Sanger disclosed strategies used by the White House to deploy Stuxnet.[3] The White House is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney General for classified intelligence leaks.[4]

 

Those seeking to exploit any weaknesses in our defenses are talented and motivated:

 

Organized crime syndicates – Russia leads in making a business out of CyberCrime. The breakup of the Soviet Union and their lax government oversight led highly motivated and talented former state-security operatives to join with organized crime. "They're incredibly persistent. If it takes a year to set up their targets, then they'll wait the year," said Jose Granado, Ernst & Young's information security practice leader.[5]

 

Rogue nations – A recent Department of Defense report stated, “Sensitive U.S. economic information and technology are targeted by the intelligence services, private sector companies, academic and research institutions, and citizens of dozens of countries. Chinese actors are the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage." The “actors” – those who steal and disrupt – use a variety of methods to take intellectual property ranging from computer intrusions to more personal methods. Chinese intelligence services exploit people with ties to China to steal trade secrets using insider access to corporate networks.[6]

 

With Russia and China possessing the capability to push CyberWarfare forward, other nations are making strides. North Korea recently increased its CyberWarfare unit to 3,000 elite staff.[7] In an address to the U.S. House subcommittee overseeing CyberSecurity, General James Clapper was reported as saying Iran’s cyber capabilities “have dramatically increased in recent years in depth and complexity.” [8]

 

Highly-motivated individuals – It takes only one technically savvy criminal or attacker to cause serious damage.

 

Some prosecutors are learning to use the Internet to go on the offensive. U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan told a press conference, "People think that cyber criminals cannot be found or apprehended. Today we know that's not true. You cannot hide in cyberspace. We will find you. We will charge you. We will extradite you and we will prosecute you." [9]

 

Our Nation at Risk

Our national infrastructure is susceptible to two types of attack:

  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack – Shuts down computer systems by high volume of traffic and superiority of attack. For example, a DDOS attack in September 2012 disrupted at least six large U.S. banks. Security experts stated the Middle East group claiming credit, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters, must have had help. Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, believes the attacks were sponsored by Iran.[10]
    • Stuxnet-like attack – Stuxnet succeeded in covertly disrupting critical infrastructure inside Iran. The next Stuxnet may be pointed at the U.S. as a cunning means to disrupt operations or steal secrets.

 

President Obama recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal Opinion section that his administration made CyberSecurity a priority, since "the cyber threat to our nation is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face.”  He added, “So far, no one has managed to seriously damage or disrupt our critical infrastructure networks. But foreign governments, criminal syndicates and lone individuals are probing our financial, energy and public safety systems every day.” [11]

 

Have we succeeded in advancing the CyberSecurity priority? Three years ago, Stuxnet dictated new rules in CyberWarfare. Yet Stuxnet is old CyberSecurity news. As attackers become more sophisticated, we must change the rules of the game again.

 

The next article – CyberSecurity at Risk Part 2: Changing the Rules Again – looks at key CyberSecurity strategies taking us beyond the Cold War and to government’s role in protecting our vital interests.

 

For more solutions to the problems facing America in a post 9-11 world, go to http://truecapitalism.org/.



[6] Office of National Counterintelligence Executive - http://www.ncix.gov/publications/reports/fecie_all/Foreign_Economic...

[8] U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security - http://homeland.house.gov/sites/homeland.house.gov/files/Testimony%...

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Tags: Cyber, CyberCrime, CyberSecurity, CyberWarfare, Obama, President, Security, Stuxnet, computer, crime, More…esponage, industrial, online, organized, virus

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Comment by John Gearhart on October 31, 2012 at 12:19pm

Working in IT for over 20 years, I have witnessed not only the increased sophistication of the systems, but also the exponential increase in flaws due to the interoperablity of the applications that allows security breaches to occur.

Then you add to this the implied hatred of large companies like microsoft because of their business practices, it only adds fuel to the fire, not to forget those who would like to see our nation destroyed because of her greatness.

Semper Fi!

Comment by Brian Keith Prince on October 25, 2012 at 10:34pm

Paul:

Add this to Your Repoirture of Brothers in Arms.  From 10/25/12 WND post...

Experts: Hackers WILL crack election systems
Good news, bad news ...

Your vote will count – that's good.

It might count for the candidate you voted against – that's bad.

IT security experts are warning of the many vulnerabilites that could throw November's election into doubt and chaos ...

Read the latest now on WND.com.

 

More fun and games from the CARNIVAL HOUSE!

Comment by John Smith on October 25, 2012 at 10:31am

The White House is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney General for classified intelligence leaks.[4]

 They are lacing up the ice skates in Hell...

U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan told a press conference, "People think that cyber criminals cannot be found or apprehended. Today we know that's not true. You cannot hide in cyberspace. We will find you. We will charge you. We will extradite you and we will prosecute you."

We'll be on you like a London Bobbie..."Stop! I say, or I'll...tell you to stop again.

The next Stuxnet may be pointed at the U.S. as a cunning means to disrupt operations or steal secrets.

Secrets? Yes, we have big guns, weapon systems. and cutting edge warships.

And oh yeah, our Marines and Soldiers do not use bayonets any longer (wink-wink)

Semper Fi

Comment by Lizzie on October 25, 2012 at 10:20am
Jenny Durkin's quote isn't going to intimidate anyone who has found out that identity theft is not prosecuted by law enforcement.
Anyone who has experienced those surprise charges, knows that none of our law enforcement gives a hang about it. There's just no downside to it.
Glad to hear they're at least pursuing national security threats.

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