Russia’s trillion-dollar weapons: A digital defense strategy

Written by By Dr. Douglas J. McCombs , Special to CNN Written by Dr. Douglas J. McCombs , Special to CNN Over the last couple of years we have seen a steady build-up of…

Russia's trillion-dollar weapons: A digital defense strategy

Written by By Dr. Douglas J. McCombs , Special to CNN Written by Dr. Douglas J. McCombs , Special to CNN

Over the last couple of years we have seen a steady build-up of cyber threats affecting Russia. There have been many activities targeting Russia, one being a re-activation of a CyberArk control center that was shut down in 2015.

A cybersecurity company in the US successfully tested their own internal network network on a dedicated Russian server. The test concluded that their system had been compromised and was infiltrated by the military and intelligence services. We saw many other warnings of Russian state penetration in this period.

The self-described “chief information officer” of the Russian Ministry of Defence admitted in 2016 that his ministry was capable of “impregnating highly sensitive systems, including those of the U.S. State Department.” And in 2017 it was revealed that the Russian information systems likely infected with the WannaCry virus in May was modified with a new part that would make it more difficult to decry.

Russia reportedly built a highly sophisticated “thousand-year” attack program called Colossus. The goal was to destabilize the digital infrastructure of its enemies. We have no idea how many targets were hit during this program, but the Russian Government’s contracting firms are actively targeting foreign countries and their infrastructure.

Not everyone accepted that any or all of these attacks were carried out by Russia, but the cumulative message is clear. Russia’s increased cyber espionage has been successful in disrupting foreign businesses and undermining our nation’s resilience as an economy.

North Korea also has limited capabilities to control large portions of their communications networks, as it did in 2015. But they do have expertise in identifying weaknesses in data communications in highly constrained environments and have trained hundreds of engineers and technicians to carry out this job. They want to attack U.S. infrastructure.

And we can all be the architects of our own cyber vulnerability by using weak passwords. A weakness can be misconfigured, or can have an overflow. On any given day, there are 50 million servers up and running, and many are not designed to protect the information they’re handling. So in the wrong hands, when accessed, they can be exploited to compromise vital systems and systems in the U.S. and other nations.

Read the full article at Wired .

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