Rogue States Are Funding Stateless Hackers

Cyber-attacks are more likely to come from criminals funded by US enemies than from the enemies themselves, former National Security Agency director Mike Rogers said, speaking at the US  National Cyber Symposium in Colorado earlier this month

“Cyber criminals are a much bigger threat than nation-states.... some states are creating relationships with cyber criminals, giving them money, tools and targets. I suspect that will grow, and it won’t just be the Russians.”

Cyber-attacks will soon become a weapon, Rogers said, because of the growing number of internet-connected devices from cellphones and fitness trackers to thermostats and medical devices such as pacemakers. Rogers also warned that the Pentagon needs to change how it buys weapon systems to build in cyber security from the beginning and include funding for cyber updates and defensive “fixes,” since many systems have outdated cyber security protections by the time they are delivered. 

Rogers said that he is not concerned about a cyber “Pearl Harbor” or surprise attack on the US government or corporate computer networks because such an attack wouldn’t be a surprise, and governments and businesses have recovered more quickly from hackers than from natural disasters. 

He said he is more worried about breaches affecting health care information, because such data are widely shared and the devices measuring health data are multiplying. He added that  the NSA had “lost capabilities” due to leaked information by former contractor Edward Snowden. Those capabilities “had been publicly acknowledged and had to be shut down,” Rogers said. 

At a different conference session, John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO of the telecoms company, BlackBerry, described how his company was headed for financial disaster when he arrived in 2013, with declining sales, dwindling cash and facing Chinese competitors who could sell similar devices for less than the cost of the parts for BlackBerry’s smartphones.

He said he had to slash costs so the company started to generate instead of burn through cash as competitors from China took advantage of lower costs to commoditixe the mobile phone market.  To come up with a new strategy, Chen said he refocused the company on privacy and security through software giving the company higher profit margins than selling consumer phones that were dropping in price.

The company made numerous acquisitions over the past six years as part of its new strategy, including its purchase late last year of antivirus software provider Cylance to add artificial intelligence capabilities to BlackBerry’s security products for internet-connected devices. 

Governing.com:      Image: Nick Youngson

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