Anything networked can be hacked and with everything in our world today being networked, everything is vulnerable, according to Rod Beckstrom, Cyber Security Expert and former President and Chief Executive Officer of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Outlining the all-pervasive nature of cyber-crime, its potential to disrupt systems and attack individuals, organizations or governments across the world, Beckstrom shared his views on the topical issue at the World Government Summit 2016, in a session aptly titled ‘Are we Safe in a Digital World?’
Elaborating on the degree of risk for any entity, Beckstrom said: "How you relate to the world as a country or a company explains how you will be affected by the cyber world around you."
Addressing delegates from government organizations attending WGS 2016 from across 125 countries, Beckstrom highlighted potential doomsday scenarios, the threat landscape that exists and how cyber-attacks can disable industrial and defense systems, with internet dependence serving as a potent catalyst to amplify the potential threat.
Drawing an analogy, Beckstrom suggested that the ‘air gap’ maintained between nuclear facilities and external networks has been effectively compromised through the use of viruses that can be transmitted using ultrasonic sound waves that operate even in the absence of WiFi or Bluetooth networks.
He reiterated the need for nations to invest in systems that are grid-independent by building several micro-grids, in order to combat a potential attack on the electricity grid. He also cited the example of a prominent nation whose nuclear reactors were debilitated using this technique, by parties that consider such nuclear capabilities a threat to the world.
Focusing on the threat environment, Beckstrom elaborated upon potential cyber threat from organized crime networks that spend to the tune of $100 million to conduct cyber warfare. He also counted among these threats the lone hacker, highly capable hacktivist networks and state actors who are the most advanced and well-funded players. He cited that almost 30 per cent of all threats emerge from within the network.
Beckstrom also touched upon the role of emerging artificial intelligence technology that will be introduced to defend networks from cyber threat and could eventually also be used to attack these networks. Reiterating the importance of precaution, he reaffirmed the need to promote awareness and competence and ultimately increase investment in fortifying networks to combat cyber threat. These techniques, he said, prove more effective than regulation in the long term.
Rod Beckstrom concluded with the underlining cyber philosophy: "No one is safe, until everyone is safe."
The World Government Summit has attracted more than 3,000 personalities from over 125 countries, and 125 speakers in over 70 sessions. The attendees include VIPs and senior experts from the public and private sectors globally, ministers, decision makers, CEOs, innovators, officials, experts, entrepreneurs, academics, and university students. A number of initiatives, reports and studies are set to be launched during the summit and throughout the year. The summit runs from February 8 – 10, 2016 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.