Running out of Time

Victors Sheymov’s Blog on Cyber Security and Intelligence

As a country, we are slowly coming to the realization that we are vulnerable. We are almost subconsciously accustomed to knowing that we are vulnerable to a nuclear attack by a very powerful potential adversary; luckily, there are only two of them on this planet. We are getting used to the realization that we are vulnerable to a possible collapse of the globalized monetary system. But we have yet to realize that we are vulnerable to a cyber attack that could be more damaging than anything except a massive nuclear strike. The most startling fact is that such an attack could be delivered by an individual or a small group with a few thousand dollars and access to nothing more than the Internet. This aspect is politely called “asymmetric warfare,” but in fact it represents the failure of our security technology.

The estimated annual cost of global cyber crimes is $960 billion, but that is just a small part of the threat. Damage to critical infrastructure and major industrial assets can easily surpass that, not to mention the potential of massive loss of life. We are beginning to realize that a cyber attack can literally incapacitate our critical infrastructure. Cyber attacks can explode oil refineries and chemical factories, clog up our streets and make emergency services powerless if they themselves are still available, and leave our houses without heating and air conditioning—or even blown up by the manipulation of gas distribution systems. If this list is not impressive enough, it can be very easily extended. And the reality is that at this time we are not doing much to defend against such attacks.

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