Security experts maintain that the “good guys” are still winning the war on nefarious hacking in the United States, at least for now.
As hackers continue improving their methods and adapting to security innovations, however, the likelihood of a coordinated attack against the country’s infrastructure is slowly becoming a reality.
“It would be easy to say the underground is winning the hacking war. But while the loss of personal information is a real problem and can result in substantial losses … the continued operation of critical infrastructure leads me to say the defensive side is winning,” Travis Jarae, CEO of One World Identity (OWI), told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Jarae’s vice president of cyber security at OWI, Joe Stuntz, thinks terrorists and hackers will continue to become more advanced, eventually graduating from website defacement to destroying vital frameworks within the United States.
“Terrorists will certainly try to launch large scale cyber-attacks on the U.S., the question is will they be effective or not,” Stuntz told TheDCNF. “Their attacks are less sophisticated and focused on techniques like web site defacement, releasing information about U.S. people, or denial of service attacks. However, if they can develop or acquire more advanced capabilities around taking down critical infrastructure, they will certainly use that to further their goals.”
Stuntz said one way the government can help limit cyber attacks is to improve economic conditions in countries where hacking is popular, to discourage people from turning to a life of cyber crime. He also believes that the government and private industry must work together to incorporate more coding and computer classes into high schools and colleges, to train the next generation of white hat hackers.
“High schools and colleges should focus more on teaching things like coding and cyber security. There are and have been efforts to address this like with ‘Scholarships for Service.’ A program that can pay for parts of college and or grad school if someone focuses on cyber security and then comes and works for government,” he said. “My hope is that coding and cyber security do not just become more popular majors or minors, but become integrated into many other areas of study like business or medicine.”
Former FBI agent Andre McGregor warned against a large scale attack back in March at a conference in San Francisco, and said Iran and North Korea are among the top suspects, according to SecurityWeek. He also stressed the need to incorporate governors and local leaders into the conversation to shore up any weaknesses that may exist on the ground level.
“We have to get our leaders — whether it’s on the government side or private industry — to respect the cyber threat for what it is,” McGregor said at the conference. “I think in some ways we’re getting there, and we see that with our Fortune 100, Fortune 500 companies, and we’re definitely seeing that with the top-tier agencies, the military and the intelligence community. But how do we get that through to the governors, the mayors?”
Hackers experienced a red-letter year in 2017 as they managed to gain access to data from major companies like Equifax, HBO, Uber, and Yahoo — affecting billions of accounts worldwide and, in some cases, successfully obtaining large random payouts.