Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cyber Security: Growing Challenges

So much is happening online. There's much behind firewalls, but hackers have ended up everywhere before. Worms come down to your desktop, and if you are lucky you get to retrieve your work. Recently a teen spread a worm on Twitter. What's next? Gmail? So it is not like the cloud is sacred territory. There is no sacred territory.

There are rogue individuals, pranksters, spammers, spam spewing companies. Then there are the evil ones. They want your computer down. They want your system down. They want to steal your password, your credit card number. They show up in your inbox hoping to lure you to click on something or the other. It is a numbers game for them. They are counting on very few people to click, and those very few routinely do.

But what about hostile states and terrorist organizations? If the Al Qaeda wants to explode a dirty bomb, does it not fantasize of cyber attacks? It has recruited smart doctors before. Could it recruit hackers? What could a cyber cold war look like? What about a hot one?

For the most part we are counting on the good people in the information technology sector to stay numerous and to always stay one step ahead of the evil ones. We are counting on the market forces. But when it comes to global law enforcement coordination, we are as ill-prepared as on a host of other global issues. People in finance talk of tax havens. There are hacker havens all over the world. We count on hackers being not smart enough to create and spread the next deadly worm. But they routinely do. We keep building up the immune system, we keep finding cures for diseases, kind of like for the biological types over history.

And safety is not all about technology. It is also about criminals going high tech to commit crimes they were already committing before the internet came along.

Just like for global finance, for global terrorism, for global warming, there is ultimately only a global solution to cyber security. Cyber security has to be approached from many different angles if it is to be meaningfully tackled.

In The News

The Cold War moves to cyberspace CNet shadowy foes that prefer to cloak their identities. the United States is "under cyberattack virtually all the time, every day" ...... The Wall Street Journal reported that cyberspies had breached the DOD's Joint Strike Fighter project and also had penetrated the Air Force's air-traffic-control system. ..... Chinese hackers attacked private and government Web sites in the U.S. in retaliation after NATO accidentally struck the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the Kosovo crisis. ....... Russia defines cyberwar as a force multiplier while China views cyber war as a way to get control of an enemy without the need for engaging on a physical field of battle. "It's straight out of Sun Tzu" ........ In March 2007, Estonian Web sites got knocked out after the regime decided to move a Soviet statue from one park to another. Last August, when Russian tanks rolled across the border, Georgia's government ministries also got overwhelmed by a coordinated cyberattack. ....... defenders of Russia attribute the brief cyberwar to nationalists acting independently.
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