The year 2021 saw a shift in the vicious attack on computer programmes fueled by an increasing number of national attacks and ransomware.
If the concern is particularly high for IT leaders, the risk of going online is now a major concern for CEOs and world leaders.
The Colonial Pipeline cyberattack in May helped to drive this message home, as did the ransomware attacks on cities and hospitals, underscoring the real impact of a global cyber-attack. At the same time, the current Log4j error shows how vulnerable our digital systems are. It is a single piece of open-source code but widely used. And errors are so important that they can open up almost every business and government to attack.
There is ample evidence that cybersecurity has become a major issue. The January 2022 issue of Foreign Affairs highlights the disorder in the cyber space while JP Morgan International Council recently identified it as the biggest threat to business and government in its report.
Humans will never “win” a permanent battle against a vicious attack, but they may lose the battle. This year felt like a year when the invaders had the upper hand. The combination of cryptocurrency and ransomware has proved to be extremely difficult to combat as it is often the business benefit of the victim to pay for it rather than risking data loss or even business disruption.
The rise in cyberattacks has also led to an intense dialogue among provinces. With physical attacks, there is a clearer line that acts as a barrier, even in the most controversial nations. But for cyberspace, separation is much worse.
“The cyberspace base is not shaped by binary between war and peace but the spectrum between the two poles – and most of the cyber attacks fall somewhere in that muddy area,” said former national intelligence director Sue Gordon and former Pentagon chief Eric Rosenbach in an Foreign Affairs article.
“In an attempt to quantify the dangers of the Internet in the world of physical warfare, policymakers have missed out on the most insidious danger posed by cyber-operations: how they undermine trust in the market, government and national power,” said Jacquelyn Schneider of Hoover Institution. She continued: “Cyberattacks attack these weak points, instil mistrust in knowledge, create confusion and anxiety, and perpetuate hatred and misinformation.”
Leaders want a strong cooperation between business and government as a key means of fighting. Also required, many say, is an international agreement on what is legal and what is not, similar to how the Geneva Convention defines limits on traditional wars.
Yes, but the US government as well as the Indian government remain woefully short of workers with needed cybersecurity skills.