Welcome!

@DXWorldExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, John Walsh, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, John Katrick

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 writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder and partner at Cognitio Corp and publsher of CTOvision.com

@BigDataExpo Stories
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, addressed this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of the ...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to close th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.