Risk
10/30/2008
09:26 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Cyber Attacks Targeting UK National Infrastructure

A key U.K. IT security defense leader says that continuous cyberattacks are targeting U.K. businesses that work in the nation's critical infrastructure.

A key U.K. IT security defense leader says that continuous cyberattacks are targeting U.K. businesses that work in the nation's critical infrastructure.The businesses being attacked include financial services and utility companies, according to this Silicon.com story by reporter Nick Heath:

That was the warning from Mark Oram, head of the threat and infosec knowledge department at the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) -- the security service tasked with protecting key government and private organisations in the UK. Speaking at the RSA Conference 2008 in London he said: "We see frequent attacks on organisations for the purpose of theft of property.

The story goes on to detail some steps the European Union needs to take to bolster its defenses:

The report from the European Network and Information Security Agency recommends prompt reaction on reported incidents, collaboration between public and private stakeholders and development of a national strategy for information sharing and responsibilities for different parts of the network.

There's little doubt that criminal hackers are aiming at prime targets, such as financial services, manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and businesses working in the national infrastructure, including defense contractors and utilities. Most of these attacks are probably financially motivated -- stealing trade secrets -- rather than terrorism.

But in my opinion, it's not important to know the motivation of the attackers as much as it is to focus on shoring up vulnerabilities. Whether hacking for the joy, or attacking for financial gain -- the same techniques and vulnerabilities are used. There are no special terrorist or corporate espionage toolkits.

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The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?

Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

Join Dark Reading senior editor Sara Peters and guests Angela Knox of Cloudmark, Barrett Sellers of Arbor Networks, Regina Wallace-Jones of Facebook, Steve Christey Coley of MITRE, and Chris Roosenraad of M3AAWG on Wednesday, July 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss all this and more.