by Melissa E. Hathaway
The Internet, together with the information communications technology (ICT) that underpins it, is a critical national resource for governments, a vital part of national infrastructures and a key driver of economic growth. Over the last 40 years, and particularly since the year 2000, governments and businesses have embraced the Internet, and ICT’s potential to generate income and employment, provide access to businesses and information, enable e-learning and facilitate government activities. In some countries, the Internet contributes up to eight percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and recent reports suggest that the industrial Internet opportunity (through modernization) represents a 46 percent share of the global economy.
Today, businesses around the world tender services and products through the Internet to more than 2.5 billion citizens using secure protocols and electronic payments. Services range from e-government, e-voting, e-banking, e-health and e-learning to next generation power grids, air traffic control and other essential services, all of which depend on a single infrastructure. The Internet is the fuel of the global economy and the backbone of the international financial system.
No country can afford to put their economy at risk. Increasingly, though, the availability, integrity and resilience of this core infrastructure are in harm’s way. For example, in March 2013, cyber criminals successfully launched a virus that penetrated the defences of multiple financial institutions in South Korea, including Shinhan Bank, the country’s fourth-largest bank, as well as two other banks — NongHyup and Jeju.
The motive was destruction of data using a malware similar to that used in the recent incident against Saudi Aramco, which destroyed data and rendered the main operating systems of computers useless. Additionally, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) campaign has been underway for the last year against the United States’ top financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, U.S. Bank and PNC. The DDoS attacks are reaching levels at which the telecommunications providers can no longer guarantee quality of service. In both cases, Internet banking services are being degraded or blocked outright…(Read more here.)
Melissa E. Hathaway is senior advisor to Harvard Kennedy School’s cyber security initiative, Project Minerva, a joint effort among the US Department of Defense, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University. She served as former acting senior director for cyberspace at the National Security Council. Ms. Hathaway is president of Hathaway Global Strategies, LLC