Cyber challenges of tomorrow require cooperation now

The cyber challenges that the United States faces today are not necessarily the challenges the country will face tomorrow.

A panel consisting of industry and government vets discussed these cybersecurity challenges at the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s TITANS event on Tuesday and agreed that cooperation between industry and government is critical to addressing the challenges of tomorrow now.

Cyberattacks are bad today, but as time goes on, perpetrators will have new capabilities, posing a greater threat through the use of viruses that wipe devices of data, such as entire hard drives, said Robert Mueller, former FBI director.

“The other big change we’re seeing is the ability of those who make these attacks to hide their tracks, and consequently, it has become a lot harder for both the government and industry to know who is swimming in their networks,” he said.

Michael Chertoff, former secretary of the Homeland Security Department and founder of the Chertoff Group, sees cyberattacks evolving and honing in on critical infrastructure, particularly control systems.

“Many of the systems we now have that run our basic infrastructure — transportation, energy, even finance — are connected to the internet,” Chertoff said, and an attack on a system like that could interfere with the fundamental way the United States operates.

Another issue is the increased connectivity of things to the Internet, also known as the Internet of Things. Chertoff referenced a commercial on television that shows a father’s ability to turn off the lights and running water that his child left on before they left for a trip. “If a father can shut it off on a tablet, someone in Beijing can turn it on,” he said.

“I worry that we’re building the infrastructure of smart devices without adding the security that has to go along with it,” Chertoff added.

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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