The Daniel R. Coats, US Director of National Intelligence, Statement for the Record Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community delivered on January 29, 2019, to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is an interesting read from which we can draw lessons to spur our cyber and information security proactively.
Here are three critical cybersecurity-related takeaways from the report.
1. China and Russia have unprecedented power to target any infrastructure and population. Other, like Iran and North Korea, remain severe threats for cyber espionage leading to financial and supply chain disruptions.
2. Cybercriminals will continue to conduct for-profit, cyber-enabled theft and extortion against any networks endangering economic health and competitiveness essential to many countries’ national security.
3. Cyberwarfare is now part and parcel of most military’s arsenal, and the scale of the threat is outstripping most nations, never mind most organizations’ ability to defend against an act of aggression in cyberspace.
The report’s conclusions apply to just about any nations.
In the face of the current environment in regards to cyber threats, most nations lack a coherent cyber doctrine that a minimum will best defend and minimize damage to their infrastructure. They need cyber policies, procedures, and processes that proactively define their country’s intentions and interests in cyberspace; clearly articulates online actions that they want to encourage and those that they will not tolerate; and at the last recourse develop retaliatory measures to be applied once they achieve a clear independent verifiable attribution.
My take is that ultimately it is unlikely that any one nation or alliances will be able to change their adversaries’ political aims and agenda in cyberspace. Sadly, many will think it is worth the risk of provoking others in cyberspace to exercise their cyber warfare capabilities and extend their reach, especially the big boys like China, Russia, and the United States. Thrown into the mix are smaller nations that will refine their cyber warfare capabilities to augment their security and military capabilities as a more cost-effective way to spy and wage war. Moreover, there is always treachery on the part of unattributed actors such as thrillseekers, rog terrorists, or criminals triggering a cyberwar.
It’s ugly out there, and it is getting frightfully nasty for passive bystanders. Nevertheless, individuals can still be proactive with their security and deflect some dangers.
Coats, D. (2019). Statement for the Record Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community January 29, 2019. PDF Available at: https://www.dni.gov/files/ODNI/documents/2019-ATA-SFR—SSCI.pdf [Accessed 1 Feb. 2019].
Coats, Daniel R. 1943- [worldcat Identities], http://www.worldcat.org/identities/lccn-no91-7183/ (accessed February 01, 2019).