As the damage done by radical, criminal and intellectually motivated hackers continues to rise, about six Billions Dollars of economic value was destroyed worldwide by overt and covert digital attacks including viruses and worms in October alone.
mi2g, security consultants, predict there will be a growing requirement for Governments to intervene and to mobilize counter-attack-forces that protect economic targets and critical national infrastructure constituents on a 24/7 basis.
Mi2g research suggests that a new trend is developing with far more damaging economic consequences.
The near doubling of hacking incidents every two months in late 2002 will be shown to have shifted away from targeting government departments and agencies towards focusing principally on Small to Medium size
Enterprises (SMEs) and large corporations where opportunity allows.
The SMEs are incapable of sheltering themselves or having the budget and
expertise to be able to ward off sustained digital mass attacks, which have now become a daily occurrence with widely available, automated and easy-to-use sophisticated digital attack tools. The mounting collective
losses to businesses might impact on governments' revenue streams through reduced tax collection, so in the future, it will be prudent to
look after the SME growth engines and not just large businesses, who on the whole have the budgets and manpower resources to look after themselves.
National Interest ?
In the not too distant future, there is a likelihood that command and control attacks, which blend cyber terrorism with physical terrorism,
simultaneously seek to disrupt transport or telecommunication hubs;
financial services or commerce; water or energy distribution; could also
be manifest as hackers organise themselves more rigorously along the
lines of criminally financed terrorist syndicates with specific ideological agendas and become more adept at social engineering to
procure insider help locally.
Historically, politicians in ‘civilised’ Western democracies have
challenged their defense forces to provide adequate defense capability within
limited resources. The focus has been on the four physical
dimensions - land, sea, air and outer space - and not on the new 5th Dimension, which is cyberspace. There is no real digital defense capability deployed so far - other than occasional simulations and
exercises which are to uncover gaps in the national critical infrastructure.. The redressal lies primarily in developing counter-attack-forces, which would begin to arrest the imbalance of power between ill-motivated hackers on the one hand and little-prepared businesses on the other.
Most complex attacks take place through insider knowledge and assistance.
Just one motivated individual cannot usually perpetrate
complex cross-boundary physical or digital terrorism. Disgruntled employees in sensitive places are suborned, coerced or indeed volunteer
their services to support a cause. This is seen in financial services when complex fraud or deeply damaging hack attacks take place. It is also seen in large multi-nationals, in the breach of government services
security and even in the planning of the 11th September co-ordinated
attacks. More attention needs to be given to the value of human intelligence collected by local agencies, where the information is collected in situ at the grass roots level.
In the future, when seeking to protect the critical infrastructure constituents and business digital systems at a national level, the economically
prudent way forward would be to combine knowledge
management, analysis and counter-attack tools with on-the-ground human
Surveillance and reconnaissance dashboards of
digital systems would need to be managed by experienced
counter-attack-forces on a 24/7 basis.
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