Cyberattacks an 'existential threat' to U.S., FBI says
FBI official warns about increasing cyber-sophistication of rogue states, criminals
Computerworld - WASHINGTON - A top FBI official warned today that many cyber-adversaries of the U.S. have the ability to access virtually any computer system, posing a risk that's so great it could "challenge our country's very existence."
Steven Chabinsky, deputy assistant director of the FBI's cyber division, delivered a strong and urgent warning about the threat of cyberattacks during a presentation Tuesday at the FOSE government IT trade show here. Chabinsky also offered recommendations for countering the threat, including rules that would restrict the ability of some systems to interoperate with more vulnerable ones.
"The cyber threat can be an existential threat -- meaning it can challenge our country's very existence, or significantly alter our nation's potential," Chabinsky said. "How we rise to the cybersecurity challenge will determine whether our nation's best days are ahead of us or behind us.
"I am convinced that given enough time, motivation and funding, a determined adversary will always -- always -- be able to penetrate a targeted system," he added.
Chabinsky said that terrorism is the FBI's top cyber priority, followed by its investigation of foreign countries "that seek every day to steal our state secrets and private sector intellectual property, sometimes for the purpose of undermining the stability of our government by weakening our economic or military supremacy."
Both terrorists and foreign countries are turning to cyber-technologies "to exploit our weaknesses," Chabinsky said.
Cybercrime is increasingly becoming a business and more often than not connected with violent organized crime syndicates. In fact, the FBI has started using SWAT teams to make some cybercrime arrests, said Chabinsky.
White collar criminals are also increasingly involved in such enterprises. Many believe they will never serve jail time, but "increasingly, they are wrong," said Chabinsky.
The FBI has been hiring and training special agents who can "talk the talk" and navigate the online world of cybercriminal enterprises.
Chabinsky urged government organizations to evaluate their risk postures, and ask their providers of security tools "whether they guarantee your system from computer intrusions and malware. If they don't ask them why," he added.
Chabinsky also recommended that agencies use a tier level of service, one that restricts the ability of key systems to interoperate with weak and vulnerable ones.
He also asked that people report intrusions as "a civic responsibility. The FBI cannot be successful without victims coming forward and providing their assistance."
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- University of North Florida breach exposes data on 107,000 individuals
- Zeus Trojan bust reveals sophisticated 'money mules' operation in U.S.
- GAO slams White House for failing to lead on cybersecurity
- Man charged with attack on Web site of Fox News' Bill O'Reilly
- Heartland breach expenses pegged at $140M -- so far
- IT contractor gets five years for $2M credit union theft
- Democracy would suffer if Google left China, says MIT panel
- Gonzalez accomplice gets five years for hacking TJX
- Threat of cyberattacks from overseas high, federal IT execs say
- Botnets 'the Swiss Army knife of attack tools'
Read more about Cybercrime and Hacking in Computerworld's Cybercrime and Hacking Topic Center.
- Why Projects Fail CIOs are expected to deliver more projects that transform business, and do so on time, on budget and with limited resources.
- The New Business Case for Video Conferencing: 7 Real-World Benefits Beyond Cost-Savings This whitepaper provides insight into the value of video conferencing in today's business environment, and how organizations are using visual collaboration to find...
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools The client management tool market is maturing and evolving to adapt to consumerization, desktop virtualization, and an ongoing need to improve efficiency.
- Audit Ready and Asset Optimized: The Solid Promise of an Intelligent Software Asset Management Solution In this paper Frost & Sullivan examines the benefits of enterprise-grade Software Asset Management solutions, and how these solutions serve as the convergence...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy... All Cybercrime and Hacking White Papers | Webcasts