Cyber Attackers Have the Edge, US Experts Admit

April 4, 2011
Cyber Security, FedCyber Wire
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via National Journal

Top American cybersecurity officials said on Thursday they need to work closer with private industry and other governments to fight the changing threat from ever-craftier cyber attackers, who have a new array of targets from power grids to bank accounts made vulnerable by the Internet.

Such cyber attackers have an edge right now, experts told the Air Force Association’s Cyberfutures Conference.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, cyber attacks on agencies jumped 39 percent to 41,776 in 2010, up from 30,000 in 2009. The OMB also notes that the federal government spent about $12 billion on IT security, or about 15 percent of the roughly $80 billion total IT budget.

Gone are the days of high-profile viruses with catchy names. Now cybercriminals use less destructive, but more targeted attacks to steal money, information, or intellectual property, said Greg Schaffer, who leads cybersecurity and communications efforts for the Department of Homeland Security.

“This focus should be of tremendous concern, because it can have economic impact for years,” Schaffer said. Telephone systems, water supplies and factories can all now be attacked, he said.

“There are a whole range of devices that weren’t part of [the] conversation before, but they are certainly part of [the] conversation now,” Schaffer said.

More here.