New “cyber attacks” against U.S. companies make it clear that U.S. cybersecurity and intelligence services are starting to look in their infancy compared to the advances of countries such as Russia or China.
Nicolas Chaillan, former software director of the U.S. Air Force told the Financial Times that the country at the moment “we have no competing fighting chance against China.”
Chaillan noted that China’s progress in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and machine learning is far more advanced than that of the United States.
“We have no competing fighting chance against China in 15 to 20 years,” said Chaillan, who described U.S. cybersecurity systems as at a “kindergarten level.”
The former official resigned from his post in late September, citing in a resignation letter posted on his LinkedIn the Defense Department’s unwillingness to invest in research and development of new technologies, as well as the practice of placing officials with little or no technical expertise in leadership positions.
9 out of 10 Americans fear a cyber attack
A survey released by The Pearson Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research says 9 in 10 Americans fear a cyberattack on U.S. computer systems.
Three-quarters say the Chinese and Russian governments are major threats to U.S. government cybersecurity, and at least half also see the Iranian government and nongovernmental agencies as a threat, the report notes.
Cyberattacks disrupt the economy
In the last year, several public and private organizations in the United States have been victims of ransomware, where hackers encrypt an organization’s data and demand a payment to decrypt it. The seriousness of this is that there is evidence of how they can disrupt the economy and put lives and livelihoods at risk.
Recently, just as harvest begins in the United States, a “cybersecurity” incident forced New Cooperative Inc, an Iowa-based farm service provider, to take its systems offline.
“We have proactively taken our systems offline to contain the threat … we can confirm it has been successfully contained,” NEW Cooperative Inc said in a statement.
We also quickly notified law enforcement and are working closely with data security experts to investigate and remediate the situation,” it added.
Cases like this highlight the vulnerability of cybersecurity in the United States and how hacks can affect everything from the fuel supply to the food supply; recall the attacks suffered by SolarWinds Corp, Colonial Pipeline’s oil network, meat processing company JBS and the firm Kaseya.
The severity of the ongoing cyber attacks that are directly affecting the country casts doubt on whether the United States is under unconventional siege.
In 2020 an Interpol cybercrime assessment revealed a substantial shift in the targets of attacks: they now tend to be against large multinationals, state administrations and critical infrastructure.
“Cybercriminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace, exploiting the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable social and economic situation created by COVID-19,” said Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General.
In light of the increase in cyberattacks, President Joe Biden signed an executive order on cybersecurity requiring contractor companies to strengthen their measures.
“The Colonial Pipeline incident is a reminder that federal action alone is not enough,” a government official said in a call with news agencies on condition of anonymity.
According to the official, public and private sector entities in the United States are “very vulnerable to sophisticated, constant and malicious attacks” and acknowledged that security breaches will be common for a long time to come.