February 24, 2024

We are creating some awesome events for you. Kindly bear with us.

Insights from former FBI operative Eric O’Neill on state-sponsored Hacking

Insights from former FBI operative Eric O'Neill on state-sponsored Hacking

How serious a problem are state-sponsored hacking attacks for public and private sector organizations?

Public and private sector organisations should have made cybersecurity a priority in 2014 when North Korea attacked Sony’s studios in Culver City, California. The Sony breach sent a warning flag that societies’ quest for rapid and efficient information sharing and ease of access to information had critically increased our vulnerability to cyberattacks.

Unfortunately, we didn’t listen. Over the past three years, catastrophic security breaches have stolen information, probed the critical infrastructure of major western countries, provided economic advantages to China, political advantages to Russia, fuelled the North Korean and Iranian need for revenge, and have fed the espionage machine of all nations that spy. Even ISIS and other terrorist organisations are getting into the game as they amass the capability to launch digital attacks.

Cyber espionage and cyber terrorism are the most critical threats facing the public and private sector in the United States and the United Kingdom, and there is no reason to suppose that the APAC region will not be targeted. Such cyber attacks are a greater threat than even kinetic terrorism. They are cheaper to launch, easier to design and benefit from an inherent difficulty to track back cyber attacks to their source.

What are the motivations behind state-sponsored hacking attacks?

Cyber espionage and cyber terrorism share the same motivations that traditional espionage and kinetic terrorism pursue. Indeed, cyber espionage has supplanted traditional spy craft as the primary intelligence gathering method for state-sponsored spies.

The traditional spy playbook provides a clear understanding of the motivations behind cyber espionage. Russia’s attack against the American DNC and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, for example, sought to mine critical policy information for a potential incoming president and sabotaged the presidential campaign through the targeted release of information.

Gathering intelligence and disruption are hallmark purposes of espionage. Iran and Russia have probed certain power companies in the United States through malware attacks. These probe attacks typically suggest that an infrastructure attack may be forthcoming.

China has preyed upon both the United States government and private business – particularly in the technology and healthcare sectors. China’s attack on the Office of Personnel Management stole critical personal information about US government employees that can be used to recruit sources – through blackmail, greed or ideology. China’s attack on Anthem through a clever spear phishing attack using social media collected further information about numerous government employees insured by Anthem as well as private citizens.

Policy decisions of great nations are driven by intelligence gathered by spies. As we have placed our information in databases accessible to outside Internet breaches, we have made spycraft easier. We are in the decade of the cyberspy.

Do you see the volume/severity of state-sponsored attacks increasing or decreasing in the future?

State-sponsored attacks have grown since 2010 and will continue to grow at a sharp incline. Kinetic warfare is expensive and inconsequential in a world where cyber terrorism and warfare can cause significantly more damage. A nation can also carefully launch cyber attacks behind a veil of anonymity and deniability. This has been the modus operandi of China and Russia for years. Cyberattacks allow a nation to strike tactically to pursue an often-unknown agenda without the repercussions and proportional responses a kinetic attack demands.

Should nation states/governments engage in cyber arms control treaties that limit the type of cyber weapons they use against each other, or the circumstances in which they use them?

I am concerned that we will see a catastrophic cyberattack on the United States critical infrastructure in the near future.

The United States has not prepared adequately to prevent such an attack. Our outdated and decentralised systems are poorly patched and are vulnerable, and the government does not have a sufficient response plan. These are the sorts of attacks that would benefit from an arms-control treaty.

However, because cyberattacks are nefarious in their ability to strike anonymously, treaties and negotiations are the smallest part of a defensive strategy. Cybersecurity requires both the private and public sectors to combine their efforts in stopping attacks. Prevention and defence requires hardening our cyber infrastructure, protecting our information systems, training personnel in analytics – the ability to understand an attack and hunt threats – and providing the tools and practices that give threat hunters visibility into the threats.

Have you see any initiatives of this type being discussed/implemented? Are they feasible/practicable?

At Carbon Black we have advocated an understanding that cybersecurity is national security. If we seek a world safe from cyberattacks, the world needs to catch up to the attackers. Too often, security and governments play defence against attacks after the enemy has launched them.

Effective cybersecurity requires active threat hunting to discover attacks before they land and prevent damage. Cybersecurity and counterintelligence must align to stop the threats. In other words, just as the spies have become hackers, our cybersecurity professionals must become spy hunters.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

Send this to a friend