Risk
8/3/2011
02:14 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Cyber Threat Resembles Pre-9/11 Terror Threat: Black Hat

Government leaders don't understand the gravity of the threat of cyber attacks or the implications, ex-CIA official tells Black Hat attendees.

Black Hat
Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
Today's threat of cyber attacks is analogous to that from terrorists in the mid-1990s, Cofer Black, chairman of Total Intelligence Solutions and director of the CIA's counterterrorist center on 9/11, said in a keynote at Black Hat, a UBM TechWeb event, on Wednesday.

When al Qaeda was in the rise in the mid-1990s, and even until the 9/11 attacks, Black said, terrorist threats were not well understood and were new to the country's top decision makers. "They didn't understand it. They had no personal experience with it," he said. "The decision-makers of today are in the same boat [with cyber]. They hear it, but they don't understand it."

In the future, Black said, cyber will be a key component of all conflicts. He said that, until recently, the security world has considered the key threats for causing mass destruction to be chemical, bacteriological, radiological, or nuclear, but that cyber has to be a part of the mix from now on.

"I am here to tell you, and you can quote me on this: The Stuxnet attack is the Rubicon of our future," he said. "It was really expensive, so a nation-state had to be involved. Second, [the world of cyber] has now morphed into physical destruction of national resources. This is huge."

The challenges such attacks present are huge, Black said, pointing to questions about how to respond to cyber attacks on physical infrastructure, and noting that the Department of Defense recently said that they could carry out physical counter-strikes in respond to cyber attacks on physical infrastructure.

Another analogy with terrorist attacks, and another challenge of responding to cyber attacks, Black noted, was the difficulty of attribution. "In my world, the concept is false flags, that everybody wants to look like they're somebody else, like Iran, who has surrogate groups," he says. "That's where you are, too, and it is fraught with danger because it's an emotional time, but confusion comes up in the normal course."

The vendors, contractors, and other outside parties with which you do business can create a serious security risk. Here's how to keep this threat in check. Also in the new, all-digital issue of Dark Reading: Why focusing solely on your own company's security ignores the bigger picture. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading, September 16, 2014
Malicious software is morphing to be more targeted, stealthy, and destructive. Are you prepared to stop it?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-0993
Published: 2014-09-15
Buffer overflow in the Vcl.Graphics.TPicture.Bitmap implementation in the Visual Component Library (VCL) in Embarcadero Delphi XE6 20.0.15596.9843 and C++ Builder XE6 20.0.15596.9843 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted BMP file.

CVE-2014-2375
Published: 2014-09-15
Ecava IntegraXor SCADA Server Stable 4.1.4360 and earlier and Beta 4.1.4392 and earlier allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files, and obtain sensitive information or cause a denial of service (disk consumption), via the CSV export feature.

CVE-2014-2376
Published: 2014-09-15
SQL injection vulnerability in Ecava IntegraXor SCADA Server Stable 4.1.4360 and earlier and Beta 4.1.4392 and earlier allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-2377
Published: 2014-09-15
Ecava IntegraXor SCADA Server Stable 4.1.4360 and earlier and Beta 4.1.4392 and earlier allows remote attackers to discover full pathnames via an application tag.

CVE-2014-3077
Published: 2014-09-15
IBM SONAS and System Storage Storwize V7000 Unified (aka V7000U) 1.3.x and 1.4.x before 1.4.3.4 store the chkauth password in the audit log, which allows local users to obtain sensitive information by reading this log file.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
CISO Insider: An Interview with James Christiansen, Vice President, Information Risk Management, Office of the CISO, Accuvant