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General Keith Alexander, the head honcho over at US Cyber Command and the National Security Agency has said that by 2015, 40 online attack and defense teams would be defending US cyber security assets. The creation of this cyber battalion would also include 13 offensive units that would specifically be charged to “attack” other countries. This represents a confident escalation of US Cyber defense and attack capabilities. It is hardly suprising that the US continues to escalate and attempt to better defend herself against the ever-growing menace of cyber attacks; this just acts as confirmation.
Here at Concise Courses, we feel that the two growing (advanced persistent) threats, or better said, subject areas of attack, are SCADA attacks and Intellectual Property (IP) theft which seems to mostly emanate from China. SCADA hacking is particularly worrying since it would cause industrial sabotage and essentially destroy vital infrastructure of the US economy. The negative impact involved with the hacking and theft of US IP is obvious enough but it’s worth emphasizing the main problem with IP theft; which is that the attacker greatly benefits from having a competitive advantage – something which would significantly harm the US economy. Hence why General Alexander announced the creation of 40 elite hacking units to defend the US, with 13 of those having an almost SWAT-like manifesto.
We read in the Washington Post that General Alexander described the 13 offensive units as groups [that would] ‘‘defend-the-nation’’ whilst also stressing that the teams roles would be one that puts them on both sides of the action.
What happens now and until 2015?
The 40 new cyber security teams won’t be ready for a cyberbattle until 2015. What happens in the interim? Clearly there are defences in place now as we write but the main item to highlight is: Presidential Policy Directive 20. This executive order paves the way for the nation’s private businesses to share information security threat information with the US government. It’s sort of like crowd surfing, something which we seem increasing amounts of – and all for good reason. For those interested in this subject go ahead and read this: Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).
Please write a comment below we’d love to hear your thoughts. We certainly feel that the US is in a state of cyber war. President Obama’s State of the Union speech mentioned cyber (information) security as a major point of interest. The latest announcement by General Alexander was long anticipated and it arrives with daily news of hacking attempts and successes on US interests. In the last few weeks alone there have been dozens of cyberattacks aimed at America’s military computers, federal servers, utility companies, SCADA systems and banks.
Iran in particular has been largely considered responsible for a series of advanced persistent threats on US and Saudi Arabian banking websites and networks, and China has repeatedly been associated to both espionage and attacks on the US Department of Defence, Department of State and the private sector as mentioned above – i.e. IP theft.
We even saw a hacking collective known as the Tunisian Cyber Army take credit for bringing down several government websites, and along with the al-Qaeda Electronic Army, threaten to further disrupt US networks and computers systems with their “Operation BlackSummer” or #OpBlackSummer.