How serious are cyberthreats? According to the members of the 9/11 Commission, the situation is just about as pressing as the signs leading up to the tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001.
A warning for the nation
According to The Washington Post, the authors of the 9/11 Commission report have made statements advising the United States to take heed and address urgent cybersecurity concerns. In the "Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of The 9/11 Commission Report," the analysts indicated that ignoring the rising threats against computer systems would be a grave error, akin to the failure to proactively address signs of possible terrorist activity prior to the 9/11 incident. Describing the cyber realm as the "battlefield of the future," the authors urged further efforts to safeguard systems against digital disasters, the news source added.
The Washington Post noted the group's recommendation for Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation and facilitate cooperation between the government and private companies. However, to overcome privacy concerns, the parties involved must be transparent with the public about their activities, especially when it comes to sharing data.
Threats can be large or small
It's not just large-scale disasters comparable to the World Trade Center attacks that keep cybercrime observers up at night. According to The New York Times, recent infiltration believed to have originated in China are leading experts to conclude hackers are expanding the scope of their activities beyond their traditional targets. Although attacks on smaller agencies might not have the same degree of consequence as incidents that target major organizations, this revelation is concerning because it means that cybercrime could become even more widespread and persistent.
The news source reported that law enforcement and cybersecurity analysts discovered in March that the Government Printing Office and Government Accountability Office had been breached, as senior U.S. officials announced recently. The hackers used a sophisticated approach, leading some analysts to believe they were working with the Chinese government in some capacity. What puzzled observers was the choice of target: The offices lack the classified information that typically creates a more compelling, valuable incentive for cybercrime.
Shawn Henry, a former FBI official and an executive at the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, concluded these incidents could be indicative of hackers broadening their activity to try any easy target to see whether there's anything of value to obtain, the source added. Such a strategy could mean that less protected agencies are now at greater risk for attack.