• Ransomware attacks affect computers by encrypting all of the information on the device. The hackers then demand a ransom, usually paid in the form of crypto currency in return for the decryption key. U.S. Air Force Graphic by Adam Butterick
     Ransomware attacks affect computers by encrypting all of the information on the device. The hackers then demand a ransom, usually paid in the form of crypto currency in return for the decryption key. U.S. Air Force Graphic by Adam Butterick

Industrial Base Requires Hyper Cyber Vigilance

The Cyber Edge
August 10, 2020
By Maryann Lawlor
E-mail About the Author

Breakthroughs in technology can challenge systems and network protection.


The state of the U.S. cybersecurity industrial base is robust, including for numerous start-up companies exploring new and, in some cases, pioneering cybersecurity technologies. Members of the AFCEA International Cyber Committee say the infusion of cybersecurity technologies and innovations originating in friendly countries and allies such as Israel, the United Kingdom and Australia certainly support this strength.

However, significant questions about systems protection remain, and it is not clear that the U.S. cybersecurity industrial base is positioned to address all of the challenges effectively, states a committee report titled “The U.S. Cybersecurity Industry Base and National Security.” Among the rising problems are the potential breakthroughs in decryption and U.S. adversaries’ use of artificial intelligence to probe, find and exploit national systems’ vulnerabilities.

In addition, the increased use of ransomware as a weapon as well as the difficulties encountered in blocking this innovative type of attack challenges cybersecurity efforts. In the white paper, the authors point out that addressing the ransomware conundrum isn’t as simple as adding a stronger firewall. Instead, cybersecurity products that protect against them can be expensive and difficult to use, impairing the ability of many enterprises to put them into place effectively.

The potential harmful effects adversarial computer exploits can extend beyond ransomware to every sector, including election systems. The seeming ability of Russia to conduct information maneuvers to achieve specific outcomes among U.S. voters, to amplify political and social differences, and to undermine institutions has led to the development of a discipline known as “social cybersecurity.” According to the Cybersecurity Working Group at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science, the discipline is defined as “[t]he science to characterize, understand and forecast cyber-mediated changes in human behavior, social, cultural and political outcomes.”

To address some of these challenges, recommendations within the white paper include requiring partnerships between the U.S. public and private sectors. Research resources need to be as robust as possible, giving smaller and medium-size enterprises the benefits of effective cybersecurity, the committee members agree.

Additionally, elements of such an approach should comprise developing a national cyber range to measure the actual cyber effects of commercial tools in complex, high-threat environments; establishing a pedigreed “Good Housekeeping Seal” for cyber tools; and asking the Office of Science Technology and Policy, U.S. Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Department of Commerce to consider an undertaking such as In-Q-Tel, which originated with the intelligence community..

To learn more about the relationship between national and cyber security, access the white paper online.

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