Welcome!

Big Data Journal Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Jason Bloomberg, David Fletcher, Saar Bitner, Jnan Dash

Blog Feed Post

My Infosec Wish for 2013: A Balanced Cyberwarfare Debate

By

CybersoldiersI can already hear the chuckling. “Cyber warfare? Balanced? And I’d like partisanship in Washington to end, a double date with Mila Kunis and Scarlett Johansson, and some fries with that!” Yes, my desire is utopian, but the fact that I would have to qualify it with a self-deprecating remark suggests the distance that we have yet to travel before we can get more value out of our present conversation on the topic of cyber warfare.

First, let’s start with the unfortunate fact that little is really new. As CTOVision head honcho Bob Gourley notes, we’ve had so many “cyber wake up calls” as to render the phrase meaningless. If these are wake-up calls, someone keeps hitting the snooze button. We know that our SCADA systems are vulnerable, and have been vulnerable for a while. We know that air-gapping will not protect our systems, and that our systems can be attacked through their subsystems. We also understand that espionage and covert operations pose a fundamental attribution problem worsened by the fact that investigation requires cooperation from governments with something to hide. Anonymous and other decentralized hacking collectives? Predicted and analyzed 20 years ago. Finally, we also (should) get that everything from vendors to human psychology provides a multitude of attack surfaces for a potential attacker. Clearly, we’ve had plenty of forewarning for the calamities we’re suffering and have yet to suffer.

But knowing is unfortunately not, as I learned from watching GI JOE cartoon shows, half the battle. On one hand, much cyber warfare conversation these days boils down to endless repetition of civilization-destroying “cyber-doom” scenarios involving genius hackers that never face intelligence, targeting, and weapon customization problems inherent in any kind of attack capable of causing meaningful kinetic damage. That might be what James Bond faces in Skyfall, but it’s not a realistic idea of the future threat. Cyberhype is endemic, and clouds meaningful assessment of dangers and the resources necessary to combat the problem. Much of what we know in other fields about the dynamics of coercion is completely overlooked in even sound technical assessments that neglect the motives and politics of potential attackers. Attribution, for example, is variable upon an actor’s desire to coerce vs. steal or damage. But while cyber-doom is not on the horizon, attention to the intersecting fields of cyber warfare, cyber conflict, and the broader issues of cyberpower yields some discomforting realizations.

For starters, the line between espionage and warfare is never clear to policymakers in practice. Solar Sunrise occurred in the middle of a standoff between the United States and Iraq, and policymakers faced uncertainty over whether the intrusion was part of the geopolitical drama. Long range cyber-reconnaissance can identify weak points. The ability to cause damage to civilian and military infrastructure may not coerce on its own but can cause cumulative damage when combined with other sources of national power. Zero-day markets and a vigorous underground may not challenge the dominance of custom-designed single shot weapons built by states but add an unstable element to the mix. Knowledge that one’s networks are vulnerable to other powers may help tilt the overall balance in larger peacetime strategic competitions. While no piece of malware has yet killed anyone, military cyberpower has helped states coordinate and employ fearsome conventional weapons.

Stuxnet, while unique, also is at times underrated. As Jason Healey noted, Stuxnet had features of autonomy and mirrors an environment in which computational agents are delegated increasingly broad cognitive powers. The way we make war often mirrors the way we make wealth, and future cyberweapons are being dreamt up in an environment characterized by the rise of a “Second Economy” built on a vast and increasingly automatic infrastructure. Cyberspace, once the humble child of the 19th century telegraphic revolution, is increasingly conquering almost every aspect of everyday life and even reaching inside the human body. It’s not surprising that many cybersecurity ideas are drawn from science fiction, even if they often mislead. Science fiction is, after all, a vehicle for commenting on destabilizing changes in the present.

The ground is shifting. DARPA’s Plan X heralds the rise of military-industrial cyber weapon complexes with streamlined cyberweapon acquisition and deployment, and potentially new kinds of cyber weapons that move beyond the network base of contemporary cyber offense and defense. Trends in computing may shift towards biological and analog computing, complicating current technical assumptions. Big data as a form of cyberpower can aid in uncovering patterns of vulnerability that targets may be entirely unaware of. New methods of password cracking challenge old assumptions about password strength and the user vector for targeting. Finally, if the operational repertoire of cyber warfare in and of itself is limited, cyberpower’s capacity to intersect with other operational environments and modify their features makes attack endlessly customizable.

The idea that the offense is dominant should be held to rigor. But so is the idea that eternal principles of cyber conflict and geopolitics can be derived from the study of an extremely limited set of cases. History is important, and is sadly overlooked in the information security and warfare fields. The Cyber Conflict Studies Association, thankfully, is seeking to remedy this. Certain essential aspects of security and war never change, and a disruption-focused tech industry ignores this at its own peril. But assumptions based on modern Internet Protocol technologies will fail to be of strategic value when attackers bypass them or the technologies change. Want an example? Take a gander at the vulnerabilities inherent in your own car. The answer is not an “everything is new” attitude, but a richer and more detailed effort to think about what precisely cyberspace is. A solid understanding of cyberspace, separate from the domination of any one kind of technology, can not only inform about the nature of cyberpower and cyber threat but also hedge against technological change. That conversation is far from finished, and hopefully 2013 will auger a more useful debate about war and other forms of conflict in cyberspace.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.

@BigDataExpo Stories
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
“We help people build clusters, in the classical sense of the cluster. We help people put a full stack on top of every single one of those machines. We do the full bare metal install," explained Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackIQ, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, p...
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's

"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
“We are a managed services company. We have taken the key aspects of the cloud and the purposed data center and merged the two together and launched the Purposed Cloud about 18–24 months ago," explained Chetan Patwardhan, CEO of Stratogent, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session a...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in San...
As enterprises engage with Big Data technologies to develop applications needed to meet operational demands, new computation fabrics are continually being introduced. To leverage these new innovations, organizations are sacrificing market opportunities to gain expertise in learning new systems. In his session at Big Data Expo, Supreet Oberoi, Vice President of Field Engineering at Concurrent, Inc., discussed how to leverage existing infrastructure and investments and future-proof them against e...
"Desktop as a Service is emerging as a very big trend. One of the big influencers of this – for Esri – is that we have a large user base that uses virtualization and they are looking at Desktop as a Service right now," explained John Meza, Product Engineer at Esri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the ...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Creative Business Solutions will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Creative Business Solutions is the top stocking authorized HP Renew Distributor in the U.S. Based out of Long Island, NY, Creative Business Solutions offers a one-stop shop for a diverse range of products including Proliant, Blade and Industry Standard Servers, Networking, Server Options and...
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. But what about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today's databases are anything but agile - they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application an...
An effective way of thinking in Big Data is composed of a methodical framework for dealing with the predicted shortage of 50-60% of the qualified Big Data resources in the U.S. This holistic model comprises the scientific and engineering steps that are involved in accelerating Big Data solutions: problem, diagnosis, facts, analysis, hypothesis, solution, prototype and implementation. In his session at Big Data Expo®, Tony Shan focused on the concept, importance, and considerations for each of t...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal S...
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial C...