Feeds

Ex US internal-security overlord bigs up cyber menace

Chertoff fears 'dangerous intrusions'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Cyberattacks are the top threat to future national security, according to the former head of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Michael Chertoff.

It's well known that Chertoff, who is now the co-founder and managing principal of private security consultancy the Chertoff Group, has a healthy respect for the power of technology. Investments by the DHS during his tenure there included SBInet (known here at The Reg as the Eye-o-Sauron stare-towers); handheld lobster spy-beam scanners; and Project Hostile Intent, a non-invasive mind probe to separate the dastardly from the law-abiding.

However, Chertoff now worries that power will be used more and more often to attack financial and political systems, as we've already seen happen in Estonia and Georgia.

In April 2007, websites of the Estonian parliament, banks, ministries and the media were the victims of a number of cyberattacks while the country rowed with Russia over Soviet-era war memorials in its capital Tallinn. The following year, websites in Georgia were attacked before and during the military action with Russia. Russia denied being behind either attack and experts were unable to come up with the culprits, highlighting the difficulty of tracing many cybercrimes.

"Cybercrime is probably the cutting edge of where we're going to be looking at threats in the future," Chertoff said at a lecture at the London School of Economics this morning, adding that improvements in the internet "unquestionably create greater risks".

As the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks nears, Chertoff gave a whistle-stop tour of the state of security in the US for the last decade, drawing particular attention to the global but fragmented nature of modern terror networks and how they are facilitated by technologies that allow movement of money, people and communications around the world.

He said that the US's attempts to draw military and law-enforcement intelligence together and use it to intercept these movements has helped reduce the threat of al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan and stopped terrorists from making it over the border. But he admitted that this pressure on al Qaeda has led to new leaders and cells popping up in Yemen and Somalia and an increase in homegrown terrorists.

"If you radicalise an American citizen, you don't have to get them in the country," he said. (Nonetheless Chertoff and his firm are fully invested in full-body scanners.)

He also said that cybercrime was "the one area where we've done less than I'd like" in terms of national defence.

"The more and more technology is developing, the more we're getting very dangerous intrusions into our cyberspace," he said. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
Apple grapple: Congress kills FBI's Cupertino crypto kybosh plan
Encryption would lead us all into a 'dark place', claim G-Men
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.