The most serious national security threat looming in cyberspace may be the potential for vital data to be altered by cybermarauders, according to a cyber expert with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Speaking to an attentive audience at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Sean Kanuck, national intelligence officer for cyber issues at the National Intelligence Council in the ODNI, admitted that the threat to data integrity keeps him awake at night.
Kanuck offered that, some day, a chief executive officer or even a U.S. president might not be able to trust the normally reliable data needed to make a crucial decision. That situation might be even more damaging than cyber attacks currently envisioned as realistic near-term threats.
“The question will not be distributed denial of service,” he said. “The question will be, can I trust my data from being altered?” He noted that, when data is denied, victims know it immediately. But, if data is altered without people immediately realizing it, they only discover it after financial records are not clearing and balancing, for example.
“Whether it is national security information for the president, or financial information for a chief executive, when you don’t know whether the data is true or false, it’s a really bad day.”