Continuing the conversation on the threat of Cyber-attacks, Carmi Levy wrote an article for Processor last week talking about the devastating effects of Cyber terrorism and included my comments on the subject, which I’ve encapsulated in this post.
In the article, Carmi defines Cyber-terrorism: In a corporate context, Cyber-terrorism includes attacks on network or data center infrastructure that could either be designed to steal data or interrupt the organization’s ability to function. Although the definition is relatively new, it’s not far removed from traditional threats to organizational security.
As an advisor to the Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, I’ve seen first-hand how the threat of Cyber-terrorism has grown as high-speed network access has become ubiquitous and affordable. In an earlier dial-up world, attacks originated almost exclusively from within universities and research labs because they were the only ones that had high-speed connections. This also simplified identification and resolution.
Now that consumer access has transitioned from dial-up to broadband, the potential points of origin of large-scale attacks are infinitely more widespread and more difficult to track and stop, and botnets make a bad situation worse. There’s no easy fix. Cyber-terrorism continues to bubble below the surface, with no large-scale effort to squash it, because there hasn’t yet been a major, defining attack. Everyone is waiting for the cyber equivalent of Pearl Harbor, but until that Pearl Harbor incident happens, it’s difficult to move forward with legislation that might deal with it.
But Cyber-terrorism may not be our biggest threat. Smart IT shops are realizing this and aren’t waiting for the government to act. They’re looking inward, and many are realizing that the biggest enemy to organizational security might not be terrorism — it may be our own complacency with respect to potentially damaging employee actions such as downloading viruses or losing unencrypted flash drives. Good organizations expect the worst, and they assume they’re under attack, every day. To find out what the real “Insider Threat” is, read a recent Identity Week guest post from security expert Michael C. Theis.