American Consequences - September 2021


Cyberattacks are so big, so mind-bending, awful, and frequent, that it’s easy to lose track – just like the name of last season’s biggest west coast wildfire... or which state was hit worst by the most recent devastating hurricane... or how many millions of acres of the Amazon were chopped down last month. It all blurs together. The below is a brief refresher of the highlights – lowlights – of just the past year, extracted from a terrifying timeline of cyber incidents put together by the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Johns Hopkins University... August 2021. T-Mobile suffered a data breach that led the hacker to access the personal details of more than 50 million people. July 2021. The United States, the European Union, NATO, and other world powers released joint statements condemning the Chinese government... They attributed responsibility to China for the Microsoft Exchange hack from early 2021 and the compromise of more than 100,000 servers worldwide. May 2021. The world’s largest meat processing company, Brazil-based JBS, was the victim of a ransomware attack. The attack shut down facilities in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. May 2021. The Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in America, was the target of a ransomware attack. The energy company shut down the pipeline... March 2021. The head of U.S. Cyber

CYBERATTACKS GREATEST HITS In its Annual Risk Assessment report, released in April, ODNI explained that... Foreign states use cyber operations to steal information, influence populations, and damage industry, including physical and digital critical infrastructure... States’ increasing use of cyber operations as a tool of national power, including increasing use by militaries around the world, raises the prospect of more destructive and disruptive cyber activity. As states attempt more aggressive cyber operations, they are more likely to affect civilian populations and to embolden other states that seek similar outcomes. As the ODNI explained in its risk assessment report, “Although an increasing number of countries and nonstate actors have these capabilities, we remain most concerned about Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea”... It’s easy to deride the notion of (beware: oxymoron ahead) “government intelligence.” But the large and steadily increasing impact of cyberattacks – which are joining extreme weather as another kind of collateral damage of science and technology moving in toddler- going-after-a-bag-of-Skittles directions – is clear, dire, and severe. And it’s only going to get worse.


September 2021

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