American Consequences - September 2021

a measure devised by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union that assesses the legal, technical, organizational and other cybersecurity dimensions of 193 countries, the U.S. is the gold standard of cybersecurity. It’s ranked first, followed by the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Estonia (which has come under frequent cyberattack from Russia). Pulling up the rear are Eretria and North Korea. If cyberattacks were the action of just a few bad actors, then there might be a big come-together- and-sing-kumbaya global deal to prevent and fight cyberattacks. That might sound reassuring. But don’t be reassured... The U.S. might be, by some measures, more prepared for cyberattacks than other countries... but as the seemingly endless series of cyber hack shows, that doesn’t mean you should use “password” as your password. In fact, just the opposite, as an opinion piece in The Hill explained... If a full on “turn the lights off” cyberwar were to happen today, we [the U.S.] would lose. Think about that. We would lose a cyberwar. With a few clicks of the mouse, and in just a few seconds, hackers in Beijing or Moscow could turn off our electricity, millions would lose heat, groceries would spoil, banking machines would not work, and people could not get gasoline.

of risks – in terms of neither likelihood nor impact, the two parameters the WEF uses – in 2019... or 2018... or 2017... or 2016 (it made it as No. 2 for impact in 2015). So the risk-aware folk failed at even getting a sniff of what’s been the biggest economic, political, social, and everything-else risk in generations. Instead, the No. 1 biggest risk in terms of likelihood over the past five years: Extreme weather. The biggest risk by impact in the 2021 report is – the horse has long since left the stable and is running down the road to find that cute mare – infectious diseases. What this means is that the fact that cyberattacks didn’t crack the top of the chart for 2021 is hardly reassuring. And the big one is coming, as Kevin Mandia, the CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, told news service Axios in February... Apps won’t work. Appliances may not work. People don’t even know all the things they depend on. All of a sudden, the supply chain starts getting disrupted because computers don’t work... Of course, Mandia is talking his book (the head of a cybersecurity company is about as likely to tell people not to worry about cybersecurity as Hershey’s is to remind people that sugar and candy is actually bad for you). But his warnings aren’t wrong... UNCLE SAM CAN’T HELP Anyway, though, Americans – sheltered by powerful Uncle Sam – will be alright... right? According to the Global Cybersecurity Index,

American Consequences


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