Last April, CIA Director Leon Panetta warned that the US’s next ‘Pearl Harbor’ would be in the form of a cyber attack. The Sacramento Times reported Panetta as saying: “The next Pearl Harbor is likely to be a cyber attack going after our grid…and that can literally cripple this country…” and that cyber terrorism is “a whole new area of threat.”
The risk Mr. Panetta speaks of is real. Several countries have already been victims of cyber attack. A few years ago, commerce in Estonia (one of the most Internet-wired countries in the world) ground to a halt, the result of a massive distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack. Russia shut down the infrastructure of Georgia before its invasion a few years ago.
The recent Stuxnet attack on Iranian nuclear processing facilities demonstrates our own Government’s willingness to conduct cyber warfare on those who threaten us.
Even as many information systems security professionals are working diligently to prevent cyber terrorist attacks, the sad truth is that too many of our communities are unnecessarily vulnerable to cyber terrorism. The sky is not falling, but storm clouds are gathering and we are too unprepared.
Our chapter of the international Information Systems Security Association launched our Community Outreach Program to do something about the problem. ISSA-LA provides cyber security leadership to the Los Angeles community, mobilizing our business and community leaders to take the management actions necessary to secure our systems from cyber terrorist attack.
Our Board speaks on cyber security to CPA Societies, Bar Associations, Rotary Clubs and just about any one else who will listen as we actively work to make sure a cyber terrorist attack doesn’t happen on our watch.
We are currently planning our third annual Information Systems Security Summit on June 15, designed to foster dialogue between our business & community leaders and the IT & information systems security professionals responsible for day-to-day cyber security. Speakers include cyber security superstars like Steve Lipner, Gene Schultz and Marc Maiffret, along with noted LA community leader Carl Terzian.
I encourage information security and IT professionals to attend our our evening meeting on March 16th which will feature a presentation on Stuxnet by Liam Murchu, Manager of Security Response Operations for North America with Symantec. Mr. Murchu is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Stuxnet (outside of the government cyber warriors who responsible for it). I hope to see you there!