Escalation of Cyber Warfare Threatens Web Prosperity

Michael Vizard

It doesn't take much of a look around the IT landscape these days to pick up a vibe that maybe we're losing the war over IT security. While our operating systems and network perimeters are more secure than ever, the soft underbelly of our Web applications are compromised almost daily.


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Pessimism Running High over Data Breaches

IT organizations appear to be waiting for the inevitable crisis due to constrained security budgets.

And now comes word of a Stuxnet worm that has the potential to raise the stakes even further. There's no doubt that much of the cyber criminal activity in the world is to one degree or another state-sponsored. And now security attacks are being aimed at crippling critical physical infrastructure.


So how long will it be before these attacks escalate to the point that doing business on the Internet is fundamentally compromised?

Investors are betting that we're about to enter a new phase in the security arms race. That helps explain the additional $12.1 million in funding that ThreatMetrix, a provider of fraud-prevention security software, picked up today.

According to ThreatMetrix CO Reed Taussig, business leaders should get used to the idea that national governments are going to mandate higher levels of IT security to combat real and perceived threats. Taussig says the country with the highest growth in servers used to launch cyber attacks is Iran, the primary target of the Stuxnet worm. Given that a very real war is being fought in cyber space, it's only a matter of time before not only countries, but businesses are also subject to state-sponsored attacks.

In the meantime, Taussig adds there is little law enforcement can do to help the average business because no one is sure who has jurisdiction over any given attack. So unless you're a Fortune 1000 company, don't expect much help from government.

As a result, Taussig said he expects to see more businesses pooling their resources to create more effective cyber-security defenses. And someday we may even see a national two-factor authentication mandate, he added.

But for the moment, it looks like many of the business-productivity gains and related profits afforded by the rise of the Internet are being seriously threatened. And Taussig is betting that before the end of the year, we're going to see a major breach that will force everyone to reconsider the risks of doing business on the Internet in an age where businesses are increasingly seen as little more than collateral targets in a new form of digital warfare.

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