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Who's Winning the War?

Posted by: Kyle Deming

Tagged in: cyber warfare

Winning the war, no this isn't about Iraq or al-Qaeda, but it is about a massive asymmetric war raging on the Internet. Botnets now are able to claim millions of nodes to harness for malicious use, and the question we have to continually ask is how are we doing?

Today's headlines read that 11 perpetrators allegedly involved in hacking 9 major U.S. retailers were indicted. They're allegedly involved in the channeling of over 40 million credit cards and debit cards. We took down 11 bad guys, and the press suggests that we've made a major dent.

However, the Commerce Department has previously said that they believe that online fraud and crime today is larger than the illicit drug industry in the United States. The illicit drug industry has produced over 500,000 prison inmates. The war on illicit drugs costs billions of dollars and involves international aid to foreign governments to assist them in drug eradication, and it engages virtually all aspects of our legal system from local police to large dedicated federal teams. One significant argument for the imbalance of resources is that drug-related crimes are much more likely to involve threats to life and physical safety. However, as we explore the digitization of our modern life, it's hard to believe that cyber attacks won't impact life as medical systems, SCADA controls and other critical resources become exposed to cyber exploits.

Three questions we need to ask:

1) How serious are these threats?

2) How are we doing in mitigating these threats?

3) What can we learn from our risk analysis to better defend employment of new medical systems, VoIP implementations, and the ongoing connection of defenseless consumer products linked to the Internet?

I've frequently posed the question what happens when our VCR's, refrigerators and cars are all IP devices and one day turn on us? Our job is to make sure that day never comes, but some days I wake up thinking we're losing the war.

"What do you think?"

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