Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems face numerous threats from cybermarauders coming at them from any of a number of directions. Some systems could suffer malware attacks even though they are not the intended targets, according to a leading security expert.
Global Intelligence Forum 2013
One of the world’s leading experts on cybersecurity calls cyber sabotage attacks “the worst innovation of this century.” Cyberweapons have become too dangerous, and cyberattack can lead to visible and important damage to the critical infrastructure or telecommunications. And, attribution is almost impossible.
Democracy has only 20 years left to live if an effective means of digital identification is not developed before that deadline. As young people growing up with social media reach voting age in increasing numbers, they will lead a major shift to online voting. A lack of identity security will throw open the gates to massive voter fraud that will destroy the fidelity of elections, and with it, true representative government.
A “digital Pearl Harbor Armageddon” that inflicts catastrophic damage on the United States is not likely soon or in the foreseeable future. The worst cyber attack that could be expected would have less of an effect for a shorter period of time, said an expert with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
The most damaging cyber attacks possible are among the least likely to happen, because the powers capable of undertaking them are unlikely to launch them, according to an expert with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Sean Kanuck, national intelligence officer for cyber issues at the National Intelligence Council, ODNI, told the audience at the second day of the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that cyber attack capability need not translate to immediate threat.
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.
Resistance to change may prove to be the biggest impediment to information sharing among the cyber intelligence community. Both government and industry must break out of their existing paradigms to share cyber intelligence that may prove vital to national security.
Panelists on the second day of the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., outlined some of the cultural obstacles that hold back information sharing. In the intelligence community, the conflict is the traditional need to know versus the new need to share.
While government and industry wrestle with issues of sharing cyber intelligence, different private sectors face an equally difficult—and important—task of information sharing among themselves. Many face similar threats, and their survival against cybermarauders may depend on how well they share threat knowledge.
Effective cyber experts require an increasing skill set that is putting them out of reach of the government. As threats have become more diverse, so have the abilities needed to defend against them, and the government may need to turn to innovative methods of building its cyberforce.
Just as an earlier panelist at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., emphasized the importance of the human element in cyber intelligence, a subsequent panel sounded the alarm for acquiring and keeping cyber personnel. Obsolete hiring rules and competition from the private sector loom large as impediments to the government’s ability to hire and retain effective cyber intelligence personnel.
Information sharing, automated intelligence reporting and all-source analysis capabilities are cited by many experts as being necessary for helping ensure cybersecurity. However, the human element must remain not only present, but also dominant, in any cybersecurity process.
The military is so busy combating cybermarauders that it has not been able to shape an overall strategic approach to securing cyberspace, said the head of intelligence for the Joint Staff. Rear Adm. Elizabeth Train, USN, director for intelligence, J-2, the Joint Staff, told the audience at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that the cyberdomain is a multidimensional attack domain that threatens both the military and the private sector.
The same challenges facing the military now confront law enforcement as it embraces cyber capabilities. Disciplines ranging from data fusion to security are becoming integral parts of the curriculum for police officers.
Cathy Lanier, chief of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, did not understate the changes technology has wrought as she spoke at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. “It almost feels like completely reinventing police work,” she said.
New information technologies have advanced the state of the art in law enforcement at the local level, but police now find themselves facing challenges brought about these innovative capabilities. Problems of security and adversarial use of cyber have added to traditional problems that police departments have faced for decades.
Companies that are hacked have valuable information that can help prevent future cyber intrusions, said an FBI cyber expert. Rick McFeely, executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch, told the audience at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that the bureau is depending on industry to share vital information on cyber attacks.
The FBI has created an information sharing portal for cyber defense modeled on its Guardian counterterrorism portal. Known as iGuardian, the trusted portal represents a new FBI thrust to working more closely with industry on defeating cyberthreats. It is being piloted within the longtime InfraGard portal, according to an FBI cyber expert.
Hackers need to pay a greater price for intrusions if network security is to be effective, said a former director of national intelligence. Adm. Dennis Blair, USN (Ret.), who also is a former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, told the audience at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that the nation needs to raise the cost to the hacker without breaking the bank for the defender.
Legislation that creates both positive and negative incentives may be necessary for industry to incorporate effective network security. The role of the insurance industry also can be brought to bear to convince companies it is in their best interest to ensure the sanctity of their data.
Many elected officials who opposed the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) broad surveillance efforts were “demagogues” who did not know the real issues involved, said a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) told the morning audience at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that the people in the House who voted to cut funding for the NSA’s surveillance efforts preferred taking a stand to understanding the situation.
The U.S. Senate is moving on a cyber bill that is more in line with the approach being taken by the House, said a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) told the morning audience at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that this bill may be marked up by the Senate Commerce Committee this week.