Tags: Cyber Security | james stavridis | cyberattack | pandemic | burn

Stavridis Hopes Cyberattack 'Pandemic' Will 'Burn Itself Out'

CNBC's "Squawk Box"

By    |   Monday, 15 May 2017 12:03 PM

The "WannaCry" ransomware attack that crippled computer systems worldwide over the weekend should be viewed as a "pandemic" that will hopefully "burn itself out" former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis said Monday."

"The key here is its global nature. We've never seen something sweep across the planet at this speed. It's very worrisome," Stavridis, a retired admiral who is now dean of Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" program.

Friday, the cyberattack hit 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries, holding computer systems from hospitals, shops, schools and more hostage in exchange for bitcoin payments.

"Let's hope that this one will burn itself out," he said. "We ought to wake up to the real potential of a devastating attack in this way."

Stavridis said the weekend attacks could "absolutely" be just the beginning.

"I'm hesitant to say 'hey, we're seeing a nascent Pearl Harbor,'" said Stavridis. "This one is kind of a part of a release of some National Security Agency tools, but these can be manipulated very easily to create that second wave."

He does not, however, believe that a nation state launched the cyberattack, but that instead, it is "cyber criminal activity."

"It really is a crime (because) it's money, motive," said Stavridis. "If you think of cyber threats generally, it's nation states, it's cyber crime, and then it's kind of hacktivism, terrorism. Those are three categories. This is the middle one."

The United States needs to develop a doctrine for presenting such attacks, said Stavridis.

"We haven't even defined what constitutes a cyberattack in the nation state space," the retired admiral said. "We've got to define that. When is our nation truly under attack? When there's kinetic damage, when there is personal damage?"

Work is also needed to ensure more interagency cooperation, he said.

"Today we have three different agencies in charge of this," said Stavridis. "There are six different cyber centers across the country. I think there's a role for Congress in trying to at least create a voice, a centralized voice on cyber in the cabinet."

Stavridis also called on people to back up their computers constantly and move vital information onto the cloud.

"We also need hard drive backup, and we need some number of computers that are really disconnected from the Internet that can be brought on in an emergency," said Stavridis. He also said he thinks it's right to question whether the three main cloud service providers, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, are enough to keep the nation's services safe, because "we need a more distributed defensive mechanism."

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The "WannaCry" ransomware attack that crippled computer systems worldwide over the weekend should be viewed as a "pandemic" that will hopefully "burn itself out" former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis said Monday.
james stavridis, cyberattack, pandemic, burn
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2017-03-15
Monday, 15 May 2017 12:03 PM
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