Risk
1/18/2011
09:15 AM
50%
50%

Cyber Warfare Risks Overblown

Calls for military oversight of cybersecurity distract from protecting against legitimate threats, said the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Top 10 Security Stories Of 2010
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Top 10 Security Stories Of 2010
Will we see cyberwar in our lifetime? According to a report released on Friday, it's unlikely that "an event with the characteristics of conventional war but fought exclusively in cyberspace" will ever occur, or have any kind of global impact.

So says the new Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development report, "Reducing Systemic Cybersecurity Risk," written by Peter Sommer, a visiting professor at London School of Economics, and Ian Brown, senior research fellow at Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University.

According to the report, the best way to combat online attacks is to practice the basics: create secure code, monitor for malware and intrusions, educate users, and always have an attack and recovery response plan in place for the attacks that inevitably do get through.

But today's penchant for sensationalizing even small incidents as major attacks -- and labeling them as cyberwar or cyber terrorism -- actually makes organizations and government agencies less prepared for dealing with the harmful and damaging types of attacks they continue to face.

Interestingly, the report also notes that despite legislators' focus on securing the nation's critical infrastructure, the vast majority of said infrastructure remains in the hands of private companies. Of course, these companies are ultimately responsible to shareholders, rather than government appeals for cooperation or military oversight.

Accordingly, militarizing all cyberspace is not only unnecessary, but wouldn't produce much of an effect. "We think that a largely military approach to cybersecurity is a mistake. Most targets in the critical national infrastructure of communications, energy, finance, food, government, health, transport, and water are in the private sector," said Brown, a critical infrastructure expert who's consulted for the Department of Homeland Security and the European Network and Information Security Agency, among other organizations.

Furthermore, unlike conventional warfare, the military's cyberweapons -- hacking, malicious code, denial of service attacks, rootkits, social engineering -- don't offer any useful deterrence, since attackers can use zombie PCs controlled by a botnet to launch untraceable attacks.

Why, then, is there so much discussion about the role that the United States military must play in protecting the nation's critical infrastructure as well as systems at large? Together with poor analysis and inexact language, the report authors cite "heavy lobbying" as a factor.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
3 Ways to Retain Security Operations Staff
Oliver Rochford, Vice President of Security Evangelism at DFLabs,  11/20/2017
A Call for Greater Regulation of Digital Currencies
Kelly Sheridan, Associate Editor, Dark Reading,  11/21/2017
New OWASP Top 10 List Includes Three New Web Vulns
Jai Vijayan, Freelance writer,  11/21/2017
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Managing Cyber-Risk
An online breach could have a huge impact on your organization. Here are some strategies for measuring and managing that risk.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.