Delay of war on ISIS shakes cybersecurity

As of early last year, Islamic terrorists sounded the alarm with threatening messages to compromise the United State’s cybersecurity. Although not gaining much attention, the combination of these threats with the unlocking of the San Bernardino shooter’s phone, adds to the question of when the U.S. will wage war on ISIS, and it should as the progression of war has most recently not been positive.

As U.S. citizens, every person, students included, who are connected with a device, hold the potential to be a victim of a mass cyber security compromise. As provided by JavaScript analytics, some 73 percent of Americans have social media, with the average person looking at their phone about 46 times. Those between the ages of 18 and 24 tend to average of 74 checks per day.

Accompanying this, nearly every marketing, advertising, retailing and manufacturing business is backed up with computers, and social media outlets such as Instagram and twitter pack in more than 300 million monthly active users.

In an interview with L.A. Times, John Cohen, former U.S. Department of Homeland Security counter-terrorism official and now Chief Strategy Adviser at Encryptics said, “I would be concerned if they were able to attract cyber experts who could execute cyber attacks, from the standpoint of a security person, even if I don’t have specific intelligence about a specific threat or plot underway, I have to look at all factors if I’m going to be prudent and establish the capacity to mitigate this type of threat.”

Cyber warfare

Cyber warfare is a relatively new type of war and the United States has been taking measures against it as of Feb. 2016 when White House officials directed the Pentagon to aggressively prepare for upcoming cyber operations.

In an interview by Reuters, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “We don’t want the enemy to know when, where and how we’re conducting cyber operations.”

“We don’t want the enemy to know when, where and how we’re conducting cyber operations.” -Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr.

As the online offensive ISIS grows, U.S. military hackers have begun to notice that the operations being put forth are far more aggressive than once estimated.

Shane Harris and Nancy Youssef, writers for The Daily Beast stated,”Once inside the machines, these hackers are implanting viruses and malicious software that allow them to mine their devices for intelligence, such as names of members and their contacts, as well as insights into the group’s plans, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe sensitive operations.”

Civilian casualties are just as important to avert as unintended cyber consequences are. In example, if the Pentagon were to block all communication held by the militants, that could halt any collection of intelligence on their operations, and Syrian civilian or coalition communication. By cautiously calculating each risk, coalition efforts have became progressively closer to degrading and destroying the root issue.

“We don’t want them to have information that allows them to adapt over time,” Dunford added.

This is not just the U.S. and ISIS

The Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),  is a US-led group of nations and non-state actors or influential unrecognized entities participating in international relations. This coalition states they commit to “work together under a common, multifaceted, and long-term strategy to degrade and defeat ISIL or Daesh.”

All NATO, EU, plus over 30 unaffiliated or non-established group are participants in the Counter-ISIL Coalition focusing on multiple lines of effort.

U.S. officials although states that the targeted cyber denial of service and strategic cyber attacks, plus more than 85 targeted airstrikes by coalition members, assisted the U.S.-backed Syrian rebels gain the town of Shaddada and nearby oil fields in Feb., a strategically critical point in war.

Efforts on the ground have shown to be more efficient than America’s odd form incomplete isolationism.

National cybersecurity is local cybersecurity

Hearing the term “cybersecurity” the term usually elicits thoughts of  identity theft, privacy invasions or governmental hackings. Although such invasions are highly devastating, cyber attacks by terrorist-affiliates hold the potential to be far more destructive with lasting results.

Most students do not have to worry about the functions of businesses, but rather the function of their social life. As smart devices become members of the family, people use them to store personal information, photos, private conversations, finances, health data, and identity.

“Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.” -Tim Cook

In February, Twitter shut down 125,000 affiliated accounts in one swoop, proof that cyber warfare has the potential to permeate personal life.

CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, stated in a letter regarding the 2015 San Bernardino case,”compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.”

A computer can do more than just send an email

The real statistics lie in the fact that most of America’s infrastructure runs off of ‘hidden’ computers, or those lacking a conventional screen and firewall. Most of these computers run America’s infrastructure for means of efficiency and ease of production. There have been almost 750 intentional and unintentional cyber events in which the control systems failed,  bearing global impact. These impacts have shown that playing a submissive sit back and watch role will not cut it for America in the future.

Joseph Weiss, writer for The Daily Beast stated in example, “Closer to home, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security demonstrated an attack that could be easily used against power generators, pipelines, water stations, refineries, factories—any target that has mechanical equipment that has to operate in phase with the power grid. Code-named Aurora, the attack not only knocks equipment offline—it physically destroys it. And it’s made workable by the simple fact that there is a physical gap in protection of the electric grid.”

Experts have acknowledged that unidentified individuals based in North Korea, Russia, China, and other countries have hacked U.S. government networks recently for information, emerging the idea of cyber-sabotage. And accompanying these attacks, Weiss’s idea is pristinely displayed when in Jan. 2016 Ukraine’s military was hacked with malware that caused massive power outages.

The United States will be forced to use cyber attacks when the offensive allegedly chooses the passive route of compromising cybersecurity.

“There is no end to what the enemy could do to us.” -Lani Kass

Budget requests for the next fiscal year recently submitted by The Obama administration revealed $6.8 billion for Cyber Command and other cybersecurity operations, an increase of 15 percent over this year.

In an interview by L.A. Times, Lani Kass, a former senior Pentagon official now with defense contractor CACI International warned, “There is no end to what the enemy could do to us.”

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