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What's the Worst that could Happen?


That question could be aptly described as the modus operandi for almost every security professional I know. But today, ‘fearing the worst’ has begun to creep beyond the realms of hypothetical scenarios and is far closer to a real, meaningful possibility.

We all know why cyber-crime has earned its place on the political agenda and why the threat of cyber warfare on a global scale is also enjoying its share of headlines. In some ways, it’s reassuring that the potential threat of a devastating attack has the visibility it needs. It’s been a long-time coming.

My main concern is that the common tone of the debate suggests that it’s tomorrows problem; in reality, the size and scale of the threat is too big to dismiss.

Virtual doomsday

And for all we know, our ‘virtual doomsday’ (when it all hits the fan), may not be in amongst clear political turmoil. It could just turn out to be an ordinary day.

Before you even have the chance to shower or grab some breakfast, one arbitrary glance at your phone to check your various social networks or news channels could notify you that they are all being held to ransom by denial of service.

With exception of course, to one dedicated channel which tells you that we are being attacked on a national scale.

Then you go to switch on a light, only to realize that the electricity supply has also been compromised and your local grid has been taken down. You’d like to make a pot of coffee to give yourself a sense of calm but the one remaining controlled newsfeed also tells you that there may have also been a chemical attack, so using the water supply could also be a bad idea.

By this point, you’ll probably have realized that it’s going to be a long day in the office and an even longer one if you represent our military forces. Our highly-networked U.S. Defense system has turned out to be a double-edged sword that (if an attack is well-timed or undetected) could do us as much damage as we could do to our enemies.

And with the potential for our combat systems to be affected, there’s a lot more at stake than being able to check your timeline.

With all this disarray, you may figure that there is strength in numbers, so you decide to brave-it and head into work, but the trouble is all public services have also been affected. The entire subway network is disabled, the roads are gridlocked in panic, gas stations are depleted and all airports are on high-alert because air traffic control has also been compromised.

On the one hand, you could dismiss this as a weak sequel to the Die-Hard series. On the other and in the cold light of day, it is well within the realms of possibility.

Strength in sophisticated numbers

If you take-into-account real-world attacks, that have included the ceasing of US Military email used by joint Chiefs of Staff, it shows how easily we are potentially brought to our knees in panic.

History says the bad guys like to hit us where it hurts and the devastating capability of cyber-attacks is only gaining strength.

One clear area where we can marginalize our risk is by beginning to share best practice more proactively and by bringing ideas to the table that instigate change for the better.

We may be increasing our ability to react in the event of an attack, but in order to go toe-to-toe with the bad guys, we need to diversify our approach and share ideas within what is, without exception an industry awash with intelligent, forward-thinking professionals.

The worst thing that can happen has become a possibility - the best thing we can do is to outsmart, outpace and outmaneuver; and that needs proactive ideas, followed by action.

You can join my closed-door LinkedIn Group – ‘The Cyber Defense Forum’, here.

Posted: 30/03/2017 13:18:10 by Network Critical with 0 comments
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