Knowing The Threat
The US has enjoyed a position of global power and has offered great opportunity. For decades the US has enjoyed a position of global power and offered great opportunity. I will attest that our ability to accomplish great things as a nation has stemmed from our strong ability to collect and produce impactful intelligence. Our nation’s ability to produce accurate intelligence has significantly improved the effectiveness of our diplomatic and military undertakings—admittedly good intelligence does not always guarantee good policy, and poor intelligence commonly contributes to policy failures. This is why I emphasize the impacts of the role of intelligencenot only in classified arenas for our military operations and as a global policy tool but it also holds a transferred value when applied to our private industry and commercial entities which make up our nation’s infrastructure. Stability within our country ultimately rests on the backs of our local small to large businesses who comprise the important functions such as our economy, energy systems, and our food and goods supply. These functions make up our country and create a stabilityfrom within for our national security posture
We now see a developing nexus between cyber criminals and nation states hacking our networks, planning damage or disruptions to business operations.
Director Mueller of the FBI said that cybercrime will eventually surpass terrorism as our #1 threat to America.
When the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey was asked recently what he considered to be the “greatest threat” to U.S. national security he stated:
I try not to pin myself or the country down in that regard….We live today under the threat of global terrorism….Cyber is probably the threat least known, most ignored…and eventually…could be the most catastrophic….[Nuclear] is the one capability that could literally alter our way of life and take massive casualties….I avoid oftentimes the words “greatest threat”. It’s kind of a quilt or mosaic of threats that for me adds up to something I call the security paradox: so there hasn’t been a world war in a long time, and so everybody says “whew”…unless you know what’s out there.
I have witnessed the “digital security services” market become saturated almost overnight by underqualified providers attempting to capitalize on the opportunity to sell expensive security solutions. It is a misguided but a real phenomenon that people tend to assume a sense of security tangential to the money spent on those security systems. Unfortunately the reality is that money cannot buy complete or often adequate security considering the sophisticated (and silent) attack methods often used today.
I had the great privilege to work directly for former NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander, he continually argues that cyber-crime against public and private organizations as ‘the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.’ General Alexander continues to emphasize today that it is both possible and necessary to take action and address this threat. I share his sentiment that to create a capability of addressing these threats it would optimally include seeking trusted guidance from military and/or agency intelligence professionals, military cyber experts, build a dynamic defensive architecture, and it’s critical to increase everyone’s awareness—we called this “situational awareness”. These are the steps we need to be taking to protect our commercial businesses and remain resilient in today’s environment of a heightened state of emerging and diverse threats.
In today’s world more than ever, the utility of intelligence professionals and their ability to collect and assess, surpasses the need to purchase expensive systems of hardware and software to guard against emerging threats. The process of learning about the threats and TTP’s (tactics, techniques, and procedures) which are being used against commercial entities will reveal critical information necessary to begin to develop a defensive system. This is because adequate guarding against threats also involves the important intelligence process of sorting out the available information, and analyzing events and trends which are likely occurring in a physical or digital environment.
An important consideration is that intelligence is often of greatest use in increasing an understanding, rather than in trying to predict individual events. With greater understanding comes wiser decision making abilities--for military, policy-making, or for the security of business environments.