For the overwhelming number of Americans who have little interest in adding a war with
On the one hand, leaders from both countries veered from full-throated antagonism to wary rapprochement, like a pair of guys who’d traded punches outside a bar, but then decided they wanted to head home before things got really ugly.
Yet the international brinkmanship that arguably began when President
Intelligence analysts, cyber security experts and former
It’s not difficult to conjure visions of blackouts, dead phone lines or the chaos that could spring from a crippling strike on banking systems.
“Most people are much more concerned about an attack they can see and feel, and can’t relate to this idea of a clandestine war,” said
“But there’s a digital war going on that’s basically undeclared, the potential consequences of which -- if it gets out of control -- are far greater than a physical attack.”
‘Now everyone has that capability’
Ridge knows better than most the challenge of trying to predict a foreign adversary’s next moves. He had to get the newly-created
His mornings often started in the
“Were we anxious? Yeah. Some of the threats seemed more credible than others,” Ridge said.
“This was 15 years ago. There wasn’t the same concern about terrorists having cyber capabilities. Fast forward, and now everyone has that capability: nation states, hackers, terrorists.”
In 2009, a
“We really gained an understanding of how their activities evolved from their activity in the Gulf region,” said
Between 2011 and 2013,
“I just take it as a foregone conclusion that our enemies know the most vulnerable sectors of our economy,” Ridge said, “where they can do enormous damage.”
Global Guardian, an international security and intelligence firm, produced a report for some of its clients in the wake of Suleimani’s death, summarizing some of Iran’s cyber capabilities and methods. The three-page document was filled with sobering information, according to a copy obtained by The Inquirer.
Previous cyber attacks have left
Last weekend, a government website -- the Federal Depository Library Program -- was hacked, its home page replaced with an image of a fist clobbering Trump in the face, with blood trickling down to his chin. “Hacked by Iran Cyber Security Group!” read part of a message posted on the site.
Global Guardian wrote in its report that it would take seven to 10 days “before we begin seeing more sophisticated cyber activity.”
Buckner wasn’t swayed by the more cautious tone that both
“I don’t think that changes the calculus on a cyber attack,” he said. “I don’t think they’ll miss a beat on that.”
‘The next dimension of warfare’
While the odds seem heavily weighted in favor of
This is simply the new normal -- governments and corporations can always expect that someone will be digitally casing their operations, poking and prodding for hidden vulnerabilities that can be exploited at just the right moment.
Buckner said the
Ridge noted that Homeland Security had only a handful of cyber defense experts during his time leading the agency. “Now they have hundreds.”
According to former
“This,” Ridge said, “is the next dimension of warfare.”
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