Cyberwar – Is it Happening Now? – Part 2

Cyberwar as a term, concept, and action isn’t going away.  We are stuck with it.  The challenge is how do we define it?   Whether or not we’re even in a Cyberwar now is entirely open to opinion and personal biases. 

It makes for a great debate, which is what happened last Wednesday, February 22nd at Bellevue University.  That afternoon, Dr. Matt Crosston and I debated this topic in front of a full audience of students, professors, and other interested parties.  We addressed the problem with definitions and perceptional bias.  Our goal was to get participant thinking about the real issues, so we can begin to develop real solutions.

You can see the seminar/webinar/debate yourself at
After you watch it, please feel free to comment with your ideas or opinions on cyberwar. Is it really happening now?


Cyberwar – Is it Happening Now?

I was all set to write this great piece on Cyberwar and how it’s a bunch of fear-mongering by those who don’t understand it, but Scot Terban beat me to it.  See his thought-provoking piece on InfosecIsland or his blog titled: Dr. Cyberlove… Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love CYBERWAR! (Here’s the link for those who are paranoid:  It’s a great piece to get you thinking about Cyberwar and if we are indeed in one now. 

According to Sen Joseph Lieberman and Jay Rockefeller, we are on the brink of a cyber disaster.  They equate our cyber situation to 9/11.  Now I’m all for increasing focus on security, but not for the sake of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, & Doubt). Selling fear never works in the long term.

Cyberwar is a sexy term that’s hotly debated.  Many take one side or the other as to whether or not we are at war over the wires (or wireless).  Can computers kill?  Are we in the land of The Terminator and Tron?  Are we on the brink of Cyber-Armageddon? Can people live without Twitter and Facebook? 

These questions and more will be addressed in the seminar / webinar / debate Dr. Matt Crosston and I are having next Wednesday starting at 1pm. If you live in the Omaha area, you can participate in the debate in person, in the Bellevue University Hitchcock Humanities Center’s Criss Auditorium. Presenters will be me, Ronald Woerner, Assistant Professor and Director of Cybersecurity Studies in the University’s College of Information Technology, and Dr. Matthew D. Crosston, Associate Professor, ISIS Program Director – International Security and Intelligence Studies Chair – Political Science.
Please visit for more information and to register.

Just call me Dr. Cyberlove…

Cyberwar, Forensics, Security Management

Cyberthreats – Are You Ready?

Within the last week, there have been two articles on major news sources regarding the importance of Cybersecurity in the Information Age.   I’ll summarize them below. These articles demonstrate how everyone needs to have an awareness of cyber threats and the ways to handle them.  We’ve seen a good trend in that Cybersecurity is now (finally!) taking a priority for organizations. Whether it’s protecting from Cyberthreats or responding to Cyber incidents, Companies need a security plan of action. They can no longer hide from Cyber risks, but proactively address them.

ABC News – FBI Director Says Cyberthreat Will Surpass Threat From Terrorists (

FBI Director Robert Mueller and National Intelligence Director James Clapper testified this week before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Cyberthreats. The threat of economic fraud and espionage from state actors such as Russia and China is a real and growing concern. “We foresee a cyber-environment in which emerging technologies are developed and implemented before security responses can be put in place,” Clapper said. The article lists many of the complex computer breaches that highlight the wide array of threats the officials were testifying about.


 USA Today – Want CSI without the blood? Investigate computer forensics                                                                                    

The Television show CSI and its spin-offs has greatly enhanced the profile of forensics practices. Of course, it’s not as easy as it looks on TV. Computer forensics is a skilled discipline that takes years of practice to perfect to ensure all evidence is properly obtained and secured. Today, there’s a huge need as most investigations involve some aspect of information technology. 

This article in USA Today discusses the increasing prevalence of computer forensics in law enforcement and investigations. It quotes that “Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates computer forensics jobs are expected to grow more than 13 percent in the next several years.”  The growth isn’t limited to only computer forensics, but all aspects of Cybersecurity.  The National Security Agency has plans to hire 3,000 specialists to combat the thousands of cyberattacks every day in the United States, while the Department of Homeland Security is hiring about 1,000 more Cybersecurity specialists

These articles show that a new warfront is cyberspace. As a nation, individuals and organizations need to step up their cyber protections and be ready when cyber attacks occur.

We will discuss this and many other aspects of Cyberwar in our webinar / live debate on Wednesday, February 22nd.  See for details and to register.

Cyberwar, Security Assessments

Major cyber security events of 2011

I just read an article in the Financial Post (a Canadian paper) highlighting some of the major cyber security events of 2011.  Clearly these are not all the events and perhaps they are not even the most significant in some cases…but they serve to remind us of the pervasive and ubiquitous nature of the threats we face.  “Shields up, Mr. Spock.”


  Dec 28, 2011 – 8:29 AM ET

Early January — Canadian Department of Finance/Treasury Board
Hackers believed to have been based in China breached the security of Canada’s two primary economic nerve centres, gaining access to classified data before they were discovered. The same hackers were also believed to be responsible for failed attempts made against the systems of several noted Bay Street law firms several months later.

Early February — Nasdaq Stock Exchange
America’s largest electronic stock exchange was revealed to have been repeatedly penetrated by computer hackers over 12 months. While the trading platform itself was never breached, subsequent investigations found relatively lax security allowed hackers to gain access to other Nasdaq systems.

February/March — Online dating and travel advice sites
Plenty of Fish and eHarmony, among the world’s two largest sources of people digitally searching for dates, had some of their user accounts exposed over a two-week period, allegedly by the same hacker. Weeks later, TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel Website, had email addresses belonging to some of its 20 million-strong user base stolen.

April/May — Sony PlayStation Network
More than 100 million users of Sony Corp.’s online gaming platform had their accounts breached in what remains the most widespread cyber attack of the year. The potential cost to Sony has been estimated to range as high as US$24-billion.

Late May — Weapons producers
Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest producer of military-grade weaponry, narrowly managed to thwart what it described as a “significant and tenacious” attack on its systems. Other major defence contractors such as General Dynamics Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp and Raytheon Co. were also targeted.

May 26 — U.S.-Stuxnet connection made
William Lynn, deputy Secretary of Defence of the United States, refused to deny U.S. involvement in the creation of the Stuxnet worm used against the Iranian nuclear program in 2010 during an interview on CNBC.

Early June — International Monetary Fund
A cyber attack described as “sophisticated” and “very major” by senior IMF officials struck the global economic stabilizer at some point over the last several months, the New York Times first reported on June 12. The Washington D.C.-based fund contains a treasure trove of highly sensitive economic data.

Early August — Operation Shady RAT exposed
McAfee Labs uncovered details of a coordinated five-year cyber warfare campaign against the networks of 72 organizations including the United Nations, governments and companies around the world. Dubbed ‘Operation Shady RAT’, the company called it the ‘biggest series of cyber attacks’ in history and many fingers pointed to China as the culprit.

Late October — “Nitro Attacks” revealed
Symantec Corp. released details on a series of attacks launched against “multiple” Fortune 100 companies involved in the industrial chemical production sector. A total of 48 companies around the world were believed to have been victimized by that single coordinated attack. The world’s largest maker of security software also revealed a survey finding controllers of critical infrastructure were growing complacent with their own security procedures.

Early November — Biggest cyber criminal takedown in history
Working with members of the Estonian police, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation executed what has since become known as the rgest single takedown of a cybercrime syndicate in the history of the Internet, arresting the alleged ringleaders of a US$14-million cyber crime spree. Known as ‘Operation Ghost Click’, the victory was heralded as a sign law enforcement was finally beginning to overcome a key obstacle in digital crime investigations: Actually tracking down the perpetrators in the real world.

Mid-November — Canada commits nearly half-a-billion to cyber defence
Recognizing the growing digital threat, made clear and brought close to home by the attacks against two federal departments in early 2011, Ottawa earmarked $477-million for access to U.S. cyber defence capabilities. Known as Global Mercury, the new capabilities are expected to come into force before the start of 2012.