It is said that the best way to defeat the next battle is to continue the last fight. Cities were effective defenses in the middle Ages until guns and cannons changed the siege war forever. Battlefield superiority based on the number of raw troops powered by artillery and machine guns. During World War I, tanks were an invention that literally turned into fortifications built using 19th century technology.
Throughout military history, inventors have enjoyed the spoils of war, and those who took too long to adapt were crushed. As for our economic and national security, the yield of conventional weapons in technologies is no different from cyberwarfare. Despite our military superiority and advancement on the cyber front, America is still fighting a digital enemy using analog methods thinking.
This must change, with the government making some difficult choices about how to use its offensive power against an enemy hiding in the shadows, how to partner with the private sector, and how to protect the country against threats to the nation. Following the ransom attack on the Colon colonial pipeline, the Russian-linked hacking group known as Darkside shut down and Federal Bureau of Investigation recovered part of the $4.4 million.
These are positive developments and an indicator that our government is taking this kind of attack seriously. But cybercriminals working to acquit the enemy abroad using a strategy known year after year did not change it, shutting down the country’s largest oil pipeline and leaving with millions of dollars in ransom. They will probably never face justice, Russia will never face any real consequences and these attacks will certainly continue.
The reality is that while companies can become smarter about cyber defense and users can be more vigilant in their cyber hygiene practices, only the government has the power to stop this behavior. Countries that allow cybercriminals to operate within their borders should be handed over to them or subject to crippling economic sanctions. Sanctuaries or other aid providers for such individuals or groups should face the same material assistance tariffs as those who support non-material terrorist organizations.