A nation’s military is constantly alert to changes on the battlefield. It must adjust and adapt to those changes to ensure it will keep winning wars. In a very real way, businesses and governments today must pay just as much attention to the cyber-battlefield as to any physical, geopolitical, marketplace, or legal battlefield. Any one of them can create massive change and disruption, virtually killing a company or a government.
Kaspersky released its 2013 annual report last month. It contains many interesting cybersecurity highlights from which we can benefit. Unless governments, companies, and individuals remain vigilant, some of these highlights will likely be highlights again in Kaspersky’s 2014 report. The report addresses the reality of our new cyber-battlefields and how important it is to pay attention to them:
“Stealing money—either by directly accessing bank accounts or by stealing confidential data—is not the only motive behind security breaches. They can also be launched as a form of political or social protest, or to undermine the reputation of the company being targeted. The fact is that the Internet pervades nearly every aspect of life today. For those with the relevant skills, it can be easier to launch an attack on a government or commercial web site than it is to co-ordinate a real-world protest or demonstration.” (p. 9)
Hey, if a subversive can push the right buttons to destroy a company or destabilize a government, that sure beats dodging lawyers, bullets, and tanks. Do the math. The law of supply and demand works just as well in the illegal world as in the legal world. The developing trends are foreboding:
“While analyzing the latest targeted attacks, we came to the conclusion that a new category of attackers has emerged. We call them cybermercenaries. These are organized groups of highly qualified hackers who can be hired by governments or private companies to organize and conduct complex, effective targeted attacks aimed at stealing information and destroying data or infrastructure. Cybermercenaries are given a contract which stipulates the goals and a description of the task, after which they start to thoroughly prepare for and then launch the attack.” (p. 30)
As organizations and individuals, we need to be extremely vigilant. I certainly understand we may lose some battles along the way. Nevertheless, let us make sure we still win the war.