A new breed of terror could pose the biggest threat the United States has ever seen. It’s called cyber terrorism and an attack would wreak havoc on banks, expose classified government information and put American lives in danger.  Are we prepared here at home?  Not even remotely ready.  These real-life attack scenarios are prime examples of how our government and major financial institutions are irresponsibly weak and unprepared even after warning bells are ringing louder than ever.

Threat:
1. Personal info of u.s. government employees compromised. 

  • Homeland Security contractor USIS computer was hacked. This is the contracted company that was chosen above every other option available to do background checks on the employees of Homeland Security including the men and women who protect our borders and are in charge of keeping our country safe.  USIS notified the Office of Homeland Security that its database was compromised leaking information such as border protection agents home addresses, employment history, complete contact information, and even names of friends and family who are interviewed before a sensitive post is filled.  The USIS gaff is outrageous and sloppy.  Worse is that somehow someone tasked with government employee security made a huge mistake bringing in this contractor.  How would you feel if you were an employee dedicated to protecting America and your own government operated with such disregard for you and your family and friends’ safety.  Why aren’t we demanding better security for these sorts of attacks that are only on the rise?
  • Imagine what a Mexican drug cartel or terror group would pay for personal information on TSA and border agents?

Response:

  • Time to raise the bar on accountability of government and their contractors by tightening access to confidential data, upgrading computer systems

Threat:
2. Hackers gain access to trading controls inside of a bank

  • Biggest threat to a bank – gaining access to moving large amonts of money
  • Hacker could intercept and move billions out the u.s. in 5 mins
  • Bank computer systems have become so complex that it creates more opportunities for attacks to succeed

Response:

  • Banks are investing in security start-ups for the first time
  • JP Morgan Chase now spending $3 Billion on security after admitting to massive breach into customer accounts
  • Should federal government be taking a more active role in making sure US financial infrastructure is protected?  YOU BET!

 

Threat:
3. “Denial of Service” attack

  • Attack to a banks website makes it impossible for customer to access account, same attack reaches to disabling ATM network by overwhelming traffic so no one can get through
  • “Traffic pumping” are attacks to a banks call center that happens when hacker uses software or system to ring the lines inbound to a bank inundating the call center and making it impossible for normal customers to get through.  Now customers panic that their money may not be safe. Now lines develop at bank branches creating a cascading effect as no amount of money normally on hand can satisfy settling level of volume in account withdraws during this cyber attack that undermines bank integrity
  • This creates unfounded fear, an illusion that your money is gone or inaccessible
  • Could create national hysteria – people rush to banks demanding to withdraw money which then adversely effects global economy

Response:

  • Banks working with companies like Pindrop Security that attempt to  suspend the bogus calls and web attacks before they come in, neutralize an attack that could shutdown website and ATM network.  Not perfect, but better than anything we’ve got so far.

Kurt CyberGuy Knutsson - Are we safe from Cyber Terrorism?