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.

Perimeter

4/1/2009
06:54 PM
Rob Enderle
Rob Enderle
Commentary
50%
50%

Anticipating Government Overreaction To An Actual Conficker Attack

Most governments tend to overreact, and the U.S. probably leads the pack. Fortunately, we survived Conficker on Wednesday, but what if it had resulted in a massive amount of damage? Would the government's response have done more damage than the worm?

Most governments tend to overreact, and the U.S. probably leads the pack. Fortunately, we survived Conficker on Wednesday, but what if it had resulted in a massive amount of damage? Would the government's response have done more damage than the worm?The odds are likely because we have a history of inordinately responding to disasters and then regretting our response later.

While it isn't clear what actually happened with Conficker yet, perhaps enough people were prepared so that no disaster occurred. Or perhaps the worm's writer decided against doing a lot of damage. Or maybe we were just crying wolf. But what about next time? We operate in a world where cybersecurity is an afterthought in most states (in the U.S., it isn't even clear who is in charge of it at the moment), and where we have increasingly fast networks that could be, and are, used to move malware almost instantly to all parts of the globe. Since we dodged the bullet this time, the loud warnings become background noise and are increasingly ignored. This makes it likely that, eventually, we are going to have a massive virus-driven outage. It will likely be a Hurricane Katrina moment for a number of governments.

One thing we can expect is that the various political bodies will overreact. You could see governments banning Windows or all Microsoft products; you could see government PCs being locked down; you could see laws holding Internet service providers liable for allowing the virus to spread; you could see hackers broadly branded as terrorists and their legal punishments escalating; you could see government scanning of private networks increasing dramatically; and you could see a sharp move away from PC technology for all critical systems.

But what you probably won't see is a measured review of what happened and a solution that focuses on ensuring a disaster like it won't happen again.

Most large firms have disaster plans -- hopefully, most now include provisions for a cyberattack. If yours doesn't, you may want to fix that. I'm actually more worried about the government overreacting and doing stupid things, like pulling the plug on most network traffic, or moving to something like 100 percent network traffic scanning and returning us to the pre-Internet age overnight. For large companies, ensure you have solid contacts in the office of cybersecurity, and know who to call in the case of a disaster. Then you'll have access to the government resources you need, and this will help ensure these agencies don't do more harm than a virus itself.

But given our recent history with everything from the response to 9/11 to that of the economic crisis, there is significant grounds to be concerned that a major successful virus attack, while damaging, will pale in the face of a poorly thought-out and executed government response. I think we should begin considering how to avoid that, or at least protect ourselves from government overreaction.

-- Rob Enderle is president and founder of Enderle Group. Special to Dark Reading.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Former CISA Director Chris Krebs Discusses Risk Management & Threat Intel
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/23/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
Security + Fraud Protection: Your One-Two Punch Against Cyberattacks
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5,  2/23/2021
News
Cybercrime Groups More Prolific, Focus on Healthcare in 2020
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/22/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Building the SOC of the Future
Building the SOC of the Future
Digital transformation, cloud-focused attacks, and a worldwide pandemic. The past year has changed the way business works and the way security teams operate. There is no going back.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-27225
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-01
In Dataiku DSS before 8.0.6, insufficient access control in the Jupyter notebooks integration allows users (who have coding permissions) to read and overwrite notebooks in projects that they are not authorized to access.
CVE-2021-27132
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
SerComm AG Combo VD625 AGSOT_2.1.0 devices allow CRLF injection (for HTTP header injection) in the download function via the Content-Disposition header.
CVE-2021-25284
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
An issue was discovered in through SaltStack Salt before 3002.5. salt.modules.cmdmod can log credentials to the info or error log level.
CVE-2021-3144
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
In SaltStack Salt before 3002.5, eauth tokens can be used once after expiration. (They might be used to run command against the salt master or minions.)
CVE-2021-3148
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
An issue was discovered in SaltStack Salt before 3002.5. Sending crafted web requests to the Salt API can result in salt.utils.thin.gen_thin() command injection because of different handling of single versus double quotes. This is related to salt/utils/thin.py.