The risks from cyber attacks are not new. In fact, they’ve been around for about two decades. Warnings about the national security threat from cyber attacks are not new either.
What is new is the harsh tone of the warning messages that have been released lately.
Last week Republican Congressman Mike Rogers from Michigan spoke at Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids. During his speech he stated that there are 100,000 plus attempted cyber attacks against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) computer network each and every day. Ironically, later that same week, hackers claiming affiliation with Anonymous took credit for taking down the CIA’s public website.
But more to the point, Rogers went on to suggest that the dollar value of intellectual property being stolen every year resulting from Chinese-based cyber theft could be as high as $1 trillion.
Another warning came at the World Economic Forum in Davos from management consulting firm PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) Chief Executive Officer, Ian Powell.
Powell noted the danger of cyber attacks was not well understood by many business executives. He added that although they might be aware of the cyber threat, they are not necessarily equipped to respond effectively. He reinforced his point by saying that cyber threats are often treated as a technology issue and not dealt with at the executive level within businesses.
Another warning that is getting a fair amount of attention is the problem of attracting highly skilled personnel and re-training of the current staff in the practice of cyber warfare.
At a recent conference, Lt. Gen. Rhett Hernandez (pictured above) of U.S. Army Cyber Command said, “Cyberspace requires a world-class cyber warrior … we must develop, recruit and retain in a different way today.”
You would think that with warnings such as these there would be a sense of urgency implementing appropriate cyber defenses!
Kevin G. Coleman is a long-time security technology executive and former Chief Strategist at Netscape. He is Senior Fellow with the Technolytics Institute, where he provides consulting services on strategic technology and security issues. He writes weekly for Breaking Gov on the topic of cyber intelligence.