Cyber Wars put Companies at Risk

Thursday, June 21, 2012 @ 04:06 PM gHale

Fully integrated cyber attacks will end up hurting private companies and innocent people as well as governments, said Microsoft Trustworthy Computing corporate vice president Scott Charney.

The very nature of the Internet makes it difficult for governments to contain and reasonably react to cyber attacks, Charney said.

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“You see a lot of cyber espionage at the moment: Stuxnet, Duqu, Flame,” Charney said. “It’s hard to tease apart military and civilian. In the real world it’s easy to separate, but on the Internet it’s more difficult. Who’s attacking and why are two things you don’t know online.”

Charney also warned that cyber war looks set to escalate in the near future.

“Cyber is following the path of other domains like land and sea,” said Charney.

“When people built ships and went to the sea, countries looked to conquer the sea to stop people attacking them, the same paradigm is true of space, the same paradigm is true of cyber.”

Charney said the lack of division between the private and government sectors online could have disastrous consequences.

While large firms have increased attention and investment in security, industry as a whole is not prepared to handle coordinated attacks from government agencies, Charney said.

There are also dangers faced by several private companies that manage key public services like power grids and water plants, where successful attacks could have real world consequences.

Looking to the future, Charney suggested companies and governments should begin investing in automated computer detection systems capable of using big data to learn to detect network anomalies.

Those systems would help companies and governments counteract persistent and determined adversaries, commonly known as advanced persistent threats (APT).

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