Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Operation Byzantine Foothold

The latest issue (April 10, 2008) of Business Week is a must read! Go out and buy it right now!

The cover story is "The New E-spionage Threat" A BusinessWeek probe of rising attacks on America's most sensitive computer networks uncovers startling security gaps."

"The U.S. government, and its sprawl of defense contractors, have been the victims of an unprecedented rash of similar cyber attacks over the last two years, say current and former U.S. government officials.

"It's espionage on a massive scale," says Paul B. Kurtz, a former high-ranking national security official. Government agencies reported 12,986 cyber security incidents to the U.S. Homeland Security Dept. last fiscal year, triple the number from two years earlier. Incursions on the military's networks were up 55% last year, says Lieutenant General Charles E. Croom, head of the Pentagon's Joint Task Force for Global Network Operations.

Private targets like Booz Allen are just as vulnerable and pose just as much potential security risk. "They have our information on their networks. They're building our weapon systems. You wouldn't want that in enemy hands," Croom says. Cyber attackers "are not denying, disrupting, or destroying operations—yet. But that doesn't mean they don't have the capability."
The confluence of personal identity theft and massive pervasive attacks against corporations, government targets, and especially military facilities is an urgent call to arms for the United States. Most of the public is too busy with American Idol and the problems of the housing markets and the US airlines to even know about this threat. The Government is gradually becomeing aware of the risks to the very survival of the United States.

According to Business Week and we had heard most of this from our Information Security grapevine for several months, "... the U.S. government has launched a classified operation called Byzantine Foothold to detect, track, and disarm intrusions on the government's most critical networks. And President George W. Bush on Jan. 8 quietly signed an order known as the Cyber Initiative to overhaul U.S. cyber defenses, at an eventual cost in the tens of billions of dollars, and establishing 12 distinct goals, according to people briefed on its contents."

Silently and with little warning the Internet has become a greater threat to US national security that enemy air force or missile systems.

Business Week alleges that " ... any security experts worry the Internet has become too unwieldy to be tamed. New exploits appear every day, each seemingly more sophisticated than the previous one. The Defense Dept., whose Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) developed the Internet in the 1960s, is beginning to think it created a monster."

If DARPA thinks so and finds us at very big risk imagine what chances you or I as lonely individuals have to fight off the threat of attacks against our individual "critical infrastructure" (i.e. our valued and treasured personal identity information!)

It is not yet clear if insurance and credit monitoring services are sufficient defense but for now they are the best bet we have against malicious attacks against our assets.

Stay tuned please. This will be getting much uglier!

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