For decades, cyber-attacks have been getting increasingly sophisticated and frequent. While hackers were once associated with ideological youngsters, today’s sophisticated hackers have become agents of foreign espionage. With Internet usage becoming increasingly widespread, ordinary users lacking advanced technical skills complete their work online. Unfortunately, these people do not understand how some of the most common security vulnerabilities can be patched or avoided. As a result, individuals and government agencies are increasingly having their important and confidential information stolen due to a lack of technical understanding. Clearly, something needs to be done.
According to Jacob West, CTO of HP’s Enterprise Security Products division, hackers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated. While they previously operated as random criminals, today’s hackers are working together as a team. This collaboration is leading to more effective hacking that can do far more damage. As a result, government agencies need to become more vigilant to protect themselves against cyber attackers.
In order for federal agencies to protect themselves, it will be critical for them to understand how cyber attackers think. In previous eras, malicious attackers often committed crimes for ideological reasons or for personal profit. Today’s hackers are stealing national intelligence secrets that endanger the security of the United States. Collaboration is also making it much easier for hackers to share intelligence on breaking into vulnerable systems and even market their stolen booty online.
According to Richard Hale, the CIO of the Department of Defense, today’s federal government still has a difficult time grasping how the goals of potential hackers have changed. In today’s world, most employees and federal agencies are only worried about data theft by itself. What they fail to recognize is that stolen information can be much more valuable as another piece of the puzzle required to uncover national intelligence secrets. According to Hale, this presents a huge problem because attackers only need to be successful once. If one in a million attempts is successful, the information will still leak out. This data can then be copied and used by other intelligence agencies throughout the world.
If the United States plans to remain competitive in the coming years, it will be critical that it reinvent its intelligence defense strategy. While the Snowden leaks certainly revealed that the U.S. is well-prepared to go on the offensive against cyber warfare, the U.S. is still lacking on the defensive side. It will be important that the United States government develops solid strategies to keep important information in. When small pieces of intelligence are leaked out, they can give unknown foreign adversaries valuable information about US plans.
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