Cyber Briefings ‘Scare The Bejeezus’ Out Of CEOs, Cybersecurity Firms Ditch Defense And Learn To ‘Hunt’: NPR

Two interesting articles written by Tom Gjelten for NPR . . .

The first NPR article concerned the U.S. government's effort to "scare the bejeezus" out of U.S. CEOs.  Apparently top U.S. military officials took CEOs from large U.S. corporations, gave them top-secret clearances for a day, and then showed them some of the cyberweapons the U.S. military has in store.  These same military officials also showed the CEOs how they could "turn your computer into a brick."  The point of the meetings was to scare the CEOs into realizing the severity of the cyberthreat they face.  The meetings may have been successful: one CEO described the event as "a life-changing experience." 

The second NPR article dealt with cybersecurity firms transitioning from offense to defense.  Specifically, the article detailed how the cybersecurity firm Mandiant profiles hacker teams and studies patterns within APTs rather than just updating an attacked company's anti virus software.  Essentially, Mandiant engages in intelligence gathering and has been able to identify specific attacker's hacking "playbook."

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As for the first NPR article, it's an encouraging sign that at least some CEOs took these dire warnings about cyberattacks to heart.  Yet, as Antone Gonsalves reported for ITWorld, some CEOs are just as likely to ignore evidence that hackers have compromised their networks.  In the case of the ITWorld article, 22 organizations ignored information of a China-based espionage operation that had broken into their systems.  Unfortunately, it's this kind of lackluster response that makes government imposed cybersecurity standards attractive for me.  If the private sector won't take this threat seriously, why should we expect that voluntary incentives will spur action?  This debate over cybersecurity legislation (and the merits of a bill like the CSA) would go a lot differently if the private sector demonstrated some initiative and some ability to protect their own networks.  Until that point, I have no confidence that the private sector can do it without government intervention.  Meh.

That second NPR article got me thinking . . . how long until a cybersecurity firm takes the next step and actively targets hacker groups?  Kinda like a hired gun, a cyber merc if you will.  I have no doubt that a company like Mandiant has the technical ability to go after the people they've profiled.  In fact, I bet they'd be pretty good at it.  Perhaps the U.S. government could award letters of marque for cybersecurity firms going after foreign based hackers.  Perhaps companies could hire these firms to respond with hack-back in "self-defense."  Whatever the case, a U.S. based company doing something like that is probably illegal, but we can always change the laws . . .

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. She is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

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