Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Operational Security //


// // //
09:35 AM
Scott Ferguson
Scott Ferguson
News Analysis-Security Now

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen: Cybercrime Will Reach $6 Trillion Annually

Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, told this week's RSA Conference that cybercrime will reach $6 trillion annually within the next three years, and that the federal government and private business need to step up their game.

SAN FRANCISCO – Cybercrime is expected to soar to a $6 trillion annual enterprise in the next three years -- that's the equivalent of about 10% of the world's economy -- the secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, told this week's RSA Conference during an opening keynote.

As cybercrime increases over the next three years, private business and the federal government need to step up their game and learn to cooperate more, especially as attacks as WannaCry and NotPetya multiply. (See Cybercrime Is North Korea's Biggest Threat.)

"Security used to be a problem reserved for the IT department," Nielsen, who cited the $6 trillion figure from a study conducted by Cybersecurity Ventures, said during her April 17 address. "Now, it is a real-life daily concern. Every facet of our society is now being targeted at every level. Simply put, cybersecurity is now everyone's problem. It's affecting our lives, our livelihoods, and our way of life."

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at RSA 2018\r\n(Source: Flickr)\r\n
DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at RSA 2018
\r\n(Source: Flickr)\r\n

What's complicating matters, Nielsen said, is that different attackers want different things. Some look to steal money and personal data for financial gain. Other are involved in long-term espionage schemes. Another group might want to target critical infrastructure to cause havoc. (See FBI & DHS Accuse Russia of Hacking Critical Infrastructure.)

"Our response to the threat environment is complicated by the fact that different actors have different objectives," Nielsen added.

In the coming months, Nielsen said that DHS plans to release its own cybersecurity strategy that will look to increase cooporation between governments and private industry. In a broad outline, she said that the plan would include:

  • Risk identification
  • Vulnerability reduction
  • Threat reduction
  • Strengthening the security of broader cyber ecosystem

While not offering much in the way of specifics during her talk, Nielsen outlined five important, but fairly broad, strategies about this plan that DHS plans to emphasize when the rollout is complete.

  • The first is systemic risk, where government and business can no longer look at single points of failure. Instead a cyberattack against one industry should be viewed as a ripple effect that could spread across others.
  • The second is collective security, where the weakest link has consequences for all. Essentially, this boils down to: "Your risk is now my risk. What that means is you can no longer protect yourself in a vacuum," she said.
  • The third is the federal role that government needs to play and how private industry must play a bigger role. At the same time, consumers needs to demand better security within the products that they buy.
  • The fourth point was Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), which looks at the nation-state attacks that target the US. The requires resilience in systems including electrical grids, water suppliers and the voting system that came under attack in 2016. (See APTs Are Rising in the East, Kaspersky Finds.)
  • The plan also involves deterrence, and business and government agencies working together to resistant cyberattacks before they spread.

The fundamentals of network security are being redefined -- don't get left in the dark by a DDoS attack! Join us in Austin from May 14-16 at the fifth-annual Big Communications Event. There's still time to register and communications service providers get in free!

Nielsen closed with a call to action:

“We need to be more agile, more holistic. We can't miss the forest for the individual trees. We have to look at the whole picture. The threat is evolving constantly. Innovation is evolving constantly. We need to be forward on our toes, not leaning back.

Related posts:

Editor's note: This article was updated to clarify the source of the $6 trillion figure that Nielsen cited during her talk.

— Scott Ferguson, is the managing editor of Light Reading and the editor of Security Now. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
The Promise and Reality of Cloud Security
Cloud security has been part of the cybersecurity conversation for years but has been on the sidelines for most enterprises. The shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic and digital transformation projects have moved cloud infrastructure front-and-center as enterprises address the associated security risks. This report - a compilation of cutting-edge Black Hat research, in-depth Omdia analysis, and comprehensive Dark Reading reporting - explores how cloud security is rapidly evolving.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2023-02-04
Cross-site Scripting (XSS) - Reflected in GitHub repository phpipam/phpipam prior to 1.5.1.
PUBLISHED: 2023-02-04
Cross-site Scripting (XSS) - Reflected in GitHub repository phpipam/phpipam prior to v1.5.1.
PUBLISHED: 2023-02-04
Improper Authorization in GitHub repository phpipam/phpipam prior to v1.5.1.
PUBLISHED: 2023-02-04
A vulnerability classified as critical was found in SourceCodester Online Eyewear Shop 1.0. Affected by this vulnerability is an unknown functionality of the file oews/products/view_product.php. The manipulation of the argument id leads to sql injection. The attack can be launched remotely. The asso...
PUBLISHED: 2023-02-04
A vulnerability, which was classified as problematic, has been found in XXL-JOB 2.3.1. Affected by this issue is some unknown functionality of the file /user/updatePwd of the component New Password Handler. The manipulation leads to cross-site request forgery. The attack may be launched remotely. Th...