Cybersecurity professionals know myriad ways hackers can try to wreak havoc on critical infrastructure or infiltrate corporations to steal or spy, but it is the fear of the unknown that some say keeps them up at night. It was reported last month that U.S. security officials and private sector experts wonder what kinds of time-bombs can be – or have been – embedded by malware into computer networks, just waiting to explode. Cyber espionage is already “the greatest transfer of wealth in history,” National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander, the top U.S. general in charge of cybersecurity, told the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit in Washington last month. He said that “disruptive and destructive attacks on our country will get worse.”
Stealing software or money – like the $45 million stolen from two Middle Eastern banks – could pale in comparison to an attack that could, for example, switch off the lights in a major U.S. city. That was the fear in New Orleans in February when a power outage struck the Super Bowl, the National Football League’s championship game, witnessed by tens of millions of viewers. While that outage was blamed on an electrical relay device and not a cyber attack, it should be a warning as to what could happen. U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told the Summit:
The known unknown is what I worry about. For example, we don’t have the identity of all the adversaries who are trying to either commit crimes or acts over the cyber networks. The things we know about, we can deal with. It’s the known unknown.
It’s pretty obvious that the military would be a big target. It was reported that military networks see thousands of intrusion attempts every day. It’s critically important that the military’s defensive systems are up to par and capable of protecting vital systems. It was pointed out at the Summit that the United States has not suffered the kind of destructive cyber attack that damaged some 30,000 computers at Saudi Arabia’s oil company, Saudi Aramco, last year. Experts said they are concerned about the increasingly sophisticated cyber capabilities of countries such as China, Russia and Iran.
More and more elements of our nation’s economy are migrating to the digital world. That opens the door to malfeasance. We have seen tremendous advances in technology in the past few years. I just hope we haven’t out-kicked our coverage.
Source: Claims Journal
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