David Kennedy, former NSA hacker and TrustedSec CEO, explains how an attack on America’s Internet could affect the country, ranging from the financial sector to our military. Following is a transcript of the video.
David Kennedy: In a lot of cases, when we talk about disruptions when it comes to cyber, there are core things that we use in the United States to keep our days operational in every single way. One of those is communication. Can we disrupt cell phone communications, how we communicate on a daily basis? Most folks are remote. We have the ability to work in remote locations. You can disrupt corporations and companies in a lot of different ways that way.
Water treatment facilities. We look at how we produce our water, and clean water from, different sources of areas where we have to filter that water out. All those are interconnected systems that have internet capabilities that can all be disrupted.
Most importantly, our utility grid. There’s been a number of attacks on our infrastructure, originating from both North Korea, Russia, and a number of other countries. Focusing on getting footholds into our grid, so that in the event that there’s a conflict, they can shut our infrastructure down. We saw that we had a blackout, that was a partial one, a number of years ago. In a lot of cases, it could shut down a large percentage of our infrastructure. We would be completely blackout. Wouldn’t be able to leverage any technology, and it would be a complete cataclysmic downfall of a lot of our infrastructure.
Financial sector is another one. How we conduct business, how we move money. Our economy is grossly based on that. And if you look at what Russia has been doing over the past several years, is they have been completely removing themselves from the global economy, and focusing on countries like Iran and China, as strong allies, in order to have a lot of that financial backing, in the event that the U.S. dollar, or the global economy were to crumble. So, it’s an alarming problem, because if Russia’s able to disrupt the world economy, now Russia has the largest secondary type of market, and so does China, could have major impact on the global economy and world super powers.
So what we see nowadays, isn’t the fact that if you have the best military, you’re going to automatically win. Countries like Iran, for example, spend more money on their actual cyber defence than they do their military operations. And the reason for that is that everybody knows that the United States and our allies are one of the strongest when it comes to our capabilities of what we can do, but the cyber front is a whole different mechanism. You saw a lot of things happening in Crimea and Ukraine, when Russia was going after different organisations, they’re able to completely shut down with a mass worm called Notpetya, that shut down computers across the world, if you did work in the Ukraine.
So, we’re seeing these weaponizations of cyber and the ability for attackers, like sophisticated nation states, to have a major impact. So, in the event that there’s an actual conflict, using cyber capabilities as a direct kinetic extension of what you can do in a military operation is absolutely on the table. Can we disrupt military communications? Can we disrupt missile guidance systems? Can we have them blow up prematurely? Or can we completely dislodge all communications and how we conduct military operations, and have complete chaos when it comes to trying to coordinate military offensives? It’s all things that are possible today, and things that we look at when we’re trying to defend the nation, and also when we’re going to a different type of conflict with other countries that is something that is absolutely part of the plan.
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