War of the Cyber Worlds

Futuristic modern cyber man with technology screen eye panel concept

The world is fighting an unknown adversary from a cyberworld of which the average Joe citizen knows little. Sadly, the current cybersecurity environment resembles something out of the futuristic H.G. Wells science fiction novel War of the Worlds. But this adversary is perhaps even scarier than the three-leg monsters depicted in the book. This enemy can engage anyone with access to a digital device and can wreak havoc on said person by means of malware, ransomware, spyware, you name it! And, as demonstrated with the recent cyber-attacks, our enemy is not fictitious.

Unfortunately, it is not limited to a simple desktop or laptop computer. As society continues to depend on technology and the Internet of Things to improve and make life more convenient, new threats and vulnerabilities are presented. Take a fridge for example. What used to be a simple insulated steel box with an ice block in it now has the capability to tell you who drank the last bit of milk. You can place orders, communicate with friends and family, and show off pictures of your recent family vacation all on your fridge. Sounds cool! Almost as cool as the new digital thermostats that can be controlled from your smart phone. However, these technologies are a double-edged sword that present new opportunities for the trained cyber villain. It would not be cool if your home heating system was involuntarily turned on high in the middle of summer by a hacker demanding a ransom in virtual currency. Nor would it be nice if your smart fridge was hacked and shut off until a 100 dollar ransom was payed. Seem like a lot of money for a weeks worth of food? Then you are most likely a college student. Remember those days? Virtual currency is a up and coming area of expertise in which terrorists are specializing. A recent report titled Terrorist Use of Virtual Currencies published by the Center for a New American Security discusses threats to security from a terrorists use of  virtual currencies like Bitcoin. Ever considered if your car could be hacked?

Take a deep breath, it is not all doom and gloom. Thousands or men and women work hard every day in both private and public sectors to ensure safety in the cyberworld. Maybe you are one of them. If you are, and you are wondering where to find the latest and greatest in research, reports, and policy recommendations related to cybersecurity, the Homeland Security Digital Library is where you will find it. At the HSDL analysts work daily to provide you, the security professional, with the latest and most relevant documents related to not just cybersecurity but also homeland security. So whether you stumbled upon this blog to see what’s up or are looking for sources for a current project HSDL can help.