Tags: cybersecurity | trump | fake news | hack

Make Cybersecurity Great Again

Make Cybersecurity Great Again

(Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images)

By Wednesday, 30 November 2016 03:07 PM Current | Bio | Archive

While Green party candidate Jill Stein fills her coffers and/or initiates a recount of the vote in three states, most experts agree that there is no indication hackers influenced the outcome of the presidential election.

That is not to say there was no digital tomfoolery. Stories of fake news have been in the real news of late, and it is not hard to grasp how the real news might get lost in the shuffle with readers getting tired of trying to figure out if a story is legitimate. Then of course there are all those who-knows (but we’d like to) stories on issues that really do matter, and where the details are of vital importance, whether we’re talking about Clinton’s emails or Trump’s alleged arm-twisting of the Argentine president to get a project green-lighted.

Ideally, there would be fixes for the fake news problem — particularly when it is coming from a hostile nation state — and the approaches need not hinder the right to free speech (consumers of the news could rate trustworthiness, for example — but more on that later).

Unfortunately, fake news is a high-touch cyber security issue given where things stand today with our nation’s cyber defenses and for that reason a topic for another day.

Forget Fake News

The cyber security protocols President-elect Trump needs to get in place (as soon as humanly possible) are big picture ones.

Hacking of all stripes is where we need to be focused. There is a difference between (possibly) changing the result of an election with disinformation and completely shutting down the power grid, causing the records of a major financial organization to disappear, or turning off the Internet.

Mr. Trump knows the threats. As he said in one of his debates with Hillary Clinton regarding the DNC hack, “it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

Never were truer words spoken. The threats are literally legion. And when it comes to keeping the lights on and the banks open it doesn’t really matter who did what. The only thing that matters is results. We need to be protected.

Still Don’t Think It’s an Issue?

For just one recent example, take the distributed denial of service attack on Dyn. Hackers were able to find a vulnerability that was sufficiently widespread to orchestrate a digital blitz that impeded or totally stopped traffic to major sites including Paypal, Amazon, Twitter, Reddit — even HBO and Playstation.

There has been a huge increase in ransomware attacks of late. The year 2015 saw an increase of 125 percent in attacks over the previous year, and this year is only getting worse. The most recent attack of note happened in San Francisco during the first weekend of holiday shopping. Ransomware thought to originate in Russia took control of 2,000 of the 8,656 computers used by the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority, demanding $73,000 in bitcoin for their release. The attack forced the SFMTA to provide free transportation to the metro area’s 837,000 users throughout the weekend.

The above scenario could be unleashed on the power grid, banks, weapons, and of course communications. The results would be catastrophic.

Attack As Object Lesson

All of the above could be stopped if it weren’t for human beings. The fake news problem contains its solution: people. Crowd-sourcing works, and it would be an effective way to determine what’s real and what’s not.

At the end of the day, the weakest link, the thing that makes these events inevitable, is a thoughtless person. Consider for a moment how many thoughtless moments we collectively unleash on any given day. Now consider that depending on where they happen — for instance at a workstation in the Pentagon or at a power station — there could be serious repercussions.

Now I’m not advocating for robots. And I do not think that any cyber policy Mr. Trump sets up will completely circle the wagons in the Wild West of cyber insecurity that we all inhabit, except for those who are completely living off the grid.

So until we get the cyber defenses we deserve — and even after — the responsibility to keep our nation safe lies with each and every one of us.

Adam K. Levin is a consumer advocate with more than 30 years of experience and is a nationally recognized expert on security, privacy, identity theft, fraud, and personal finance. A former Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, Levin is chairman and founder of IDT911 (IDentity Theft 911) and co-founder of Credit.com. Levin is the author of Amazon Best Seller "Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves." Read more of his reports — Go Here Now.

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The cyber security protocols President-elect Trump needs to get in place (as soon as humanly possible) are big picture ones.
cybersecurity, trump, fake news, hack
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 03:07 PM
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