Canada is having trouble dealing with daily cyber attacks from state-sponsored hackers, according to internal reports obtained by the Star.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS) heavily censored “threat overview” stated “state-sponsored” hackers are targeting everything from pieces of personal information to trade strategies to political positions “daily to advance their economic, military, (and) political agendas.”
A separate report revealed that the number of daily attacks is overwhelming CSIS. The agency has had to “prioritize” their efforts, because the “scale of the threat has fast outpaced (their) capacity.”
In other words, other countries are attempting to hack Canadian cyber intelligence systems for sensitive, vital state information at an overwhelming pace.
Canada’s not the only one under threat. Web-based security attacks have increased about 23% since 2013, according to one study. In 2014, a study from consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated that there were about 42.8 million cyber attacks on the United States — about 117,339 each day.
The war on cyber-crime has gotten so intense in the U.S. that National Security Agency director Michael Rogers has suggested real world retaliations.
“Because an opponent comes at us in the cyber domain doesn’t mean we have to respond in the cyber domain,” said Rogers, who also runs the U.S. Cyber Command, as he spoke at a George Washington University forum. “We think it’s important that potential adversaries out there know that this is part of our strategy. The whole goal is, you do not want to engage in escalatory behavior.”
As to exactly how conventional military weapons might be used in response to cyber attacks, Rogers said that there were several options on the table.
“It’s situational dependent,” he said. “What you would recommend in one scenario is not what you would recommend in another.”
Although the idea of using military weapons to battle cyber criminals might seem extreme, Rogers’ logic makes some sense. Hackers’ risk of getting caught is low, while the economic rewards are high. Using real world responses would increase the consequences and penalties of perpetrating cybercrime. In other words, the risk would outweigh the benefits.
However, as the CSIS reports reveal, many of the biggest cyber-crime culprits are other countries. Using conventional military responses could then be considered acts of war. Then again, perhaps state-sponsored hacking may also be considered acts of war in the near future.
Whatever the case may be, it seems that the stakes online have gotten even higher.