Based on the volume, frequency, and dastardness of attacks launched by cybercriminals, it is no longer a hidden fact that the world is in for a cyberwar. The magnitude of the war has made it absolutely imperative that we must embark on building nation-level defenses to fight cyberwar.
It may have been a bit late already but it can never be an overstatement to say that nation-states should put their acts together, fashion out well-articulated cyber defense measures to be able to protect themselves from the most advanced threats ever seen. Looking at the strategies cybercriminals have employed in launching attacks we have experienced so far, we may be at the early stages yet.
It is a cyberwar
Cyber threats and cyberattacks did not just start to manifest yesterday, however, the worldwide gruesome WannaCry and NotPeyta ransomware attacks of 2017, brought cyberattacks to a new level altogether. As if that were not a notification that we the world is grappling with something very mammoth, the expanding levels of malware-related data breaches in 2018, are sheer warnings and realities of the increasingly critical, vulnerable, and fast-developing world of cybercrime we all live and conduct business activities in.
Governments, individuals, and businesses (financial institutions, telecoms providers, energy companies) across the globe should understand perfectly that we are now under threat from cybercriminals bent on causing far-reaching devastations for gain. This ever-expanding network of cybercriminals is hell-bent on developing very dastardly methods of attacks to penetrate any system.
What is surprising is that there are potent allegations and counter-allegations that some nation-states are even going to the extent of engaging the services of these cybercriminals to wreak havoc, damage other governments, and manipulate political results. This scenario must be looked into seriously with the view of checking the atrocity.
The step forward to be able to address this hydra-headed problem is for everybody that has national responsibilities, the leaders of nationally-important businesses, and major institutions, to see the need to jettison undue rivalries and come together as a force to fight this war. It’s important that a defense strategy that has a national or even international outlook should be put in place against this cyberwar.
Technocrats and the best minds and tools should be pooled together to protect your assets and serve the national interest. Where necessary, you can go ahead to outsource such services.
Astonishing progressions in the cyber landscape
Without any doubt, the cyber-defense landscape has witnessed tremendous and constantly changing scenario, but what we saw between 2017 -2018, was a case of taking cyberattacks to an entirely new dimension. Threat actors, means of launching attacks, methodologies, motives, and opportunities were all renewed with vigor.
It was very obvious that what we saw in 2018, was an environment where threat actors were not solely concerned with carrying out attacks for the purpose of financial remunerations. They sought political power which at the end of the day translates to greater wealth.
This led to an onslaught of attacks after attacks geared towards the acquisition, display and leveraging power. Since this is the scenario, you shouldn’t be surprised if cyber sabotage as a method of organizational disruption becomes multi-dimensional as we go on.
It’s quite unfortunate that nation-states have gone to the stage of flexing their cyber powers and demonstrating a troubling readiness to intensify their actions to induce major nation-state-level threats. Not to be outdone, relatively technologically advancing countries are also buckling up on their potentials and are fashioning out means to use cybercrime as a source of funding national development projects such as wind energy, solar energy, and nuclear weapons.
Taking the bull by the horns
On a daily basis, cybercriminals are becoming tech savvier and it’s time for nation-states, businesses, and individuals to stop beating around the bush and take the fight to them. The most potent way of doing this is to be proactive knowing fully well that we are at war.
Ordinarily putting up defenses will not suffice, organizations need to do a lot of refocusing, bearing in mind that it’s everybody’s duty to ensure our data and those of our customers are protected. It will not do any good if we allow undue rivalries to set in, whereby organizations tend to be individualistic.
Once you refuse to see the war as something that requires a joint effort, then you’re shooting yourself on the foot by leaving entry points for more heinous and escalating attacks. For an effective response to the type of cyberwar we are currently witnessing, governments and businesses must ensure a high degree of collaboration in conjunction with international security organizations.
This may necessitate putting the right structures and processes in place that will enable all partakers to collaborate at a national and international level. The only veritable way to win the war is to counter, as a fusion of security professionals.
Prepping up nation-states
Without having nation-states prepped up for the fight, we have lost the essential first step into combating the menace, there must be coordinated efforts at country levels. What we gain from this set up is that there will be a national-level insight and oversight that will work closely with businesses whether within the country or outside.
It’s of utmost importance that we have on the ground a cohesive, multi-pronged, sophisticated, and workable national cyber-defense capability.
A workable pathway for nations
A nation can correctly utilize its resources by putting up a National Cyber Security Centre, (NCSC) as is obtained in the UK. It is the duty of the NCSC to launch into a significant period of strategic planning, mapping out policies, and technical direction setting while carrying on businesses.
The government, security professionals, and businesses must have a good working rapport in order to exchange reliable information which will ensure that prospective attackers are detected, deterred, and ultimately defeated at the source of their operations. It’s on record that the NCSC in the UK played a vital role in coordinating a response to the WannaCry attack, this is an indication that NCSC will work effectively.
An NCSC will base its activities on the four key operational components that will take care of intelligence, forensics, threat monitoring, and information sharing.
The expected defense responsibility of large corporations
The wealth of any nation cannot be completely achieved without the input of businesses, at the same time national decisions impact the effective running of businesses. This is a cogent reason why nation-states and businesses must work together on cybersecurity.
We need to know that cybersecurity has gone beyond what we may have been thinking, it should no longer be left only for the professionals, all hands must be on the deck. Leaders in the industry and other key decision-makers must work assiduously with the view of understanding the data the NCSC will require, they also need to maintain and follow laid down guidelines and policies.
As a part of the proactiveness needed from these key decision-makers, they should be always prepared to promptly put into action whatever intelligence the NCSC generates in fast response and defense as a way to help the NCSC identify threats that could devastate them. This type of understanding and relationship is what enterprises need for easier scaling up of their cybersecurity measures.
Looking at it succinctly, it’s obvious that the approaches taken by the NCSC will go a long way to providing templates that we need to follow in order for enterprises to develop a multifaceted, proactive, and highly-responsive cyber defense capability.