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Cyber Reflections

Cyber Reflections: An Open Letter to Mr. Claus

By Maj. Gen. Paul Capasso USAF (Ret.) •  December 14, 2018

Dear Santa,

Holiday greetings!  I can’t believe how quickly time has passed.  A lot has happened in the world of cyber over the four years since I wrote you last.

Despite our nation’s hard work, our cyber adversaries have become stronger and more embolden.  Ransomware is on the rise, with attacks on the cities of Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver and San Francisco.  Nation states may not have only infiltrated the computer networks of multiple congressional campaigns, but also may have potentially dabbled in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election (lots of debate still taking place on this issue).  Russia, North Korea, China and Iran have also been mischievous in their acts of espionage and theft of intellectual property.  Disinformation campaigns have taken place on social media.  Critical infrastructure has been attacked.  Major data breaches have occurred at companies across the globe with the most recent being a breach of Marriott/Starwood , affecting over 500 million customers. The list goes on and on.

Santa, I know your elves are busy preparing for the holidays – checking the naughty and nice lists twice to stay ahead of emerging threats. This holiday season, I ask that you give those on the nice list the wisdom, knowledge, and capabilities to protect our nation from the national cybersecurity dilemma we face.

To those cyber foes on your naughty list, do not waste your time delivering that sedimentary rock called coal – their hearts are two sizes too small like the Grinch who stole Christmas.  We are hoping your Elves on the Shelves can help us solve the problems of cyber attribution to ensure the good folks are put on the nice list, and our cyber foes are correctly identified.  We must be able to traverse freely through cyberspace, keep targets at bay and ensure collateral damage is kept to an absolute minimum.  We also ask you to work with the Three Wise Men to encrypt your naughty and nice list, to ensure data cannot be modified or changed in any manner.  I am sure we will also need the help of your ninth reindeer to illuminate the dark web and help us seek out criminal and malicious activity.

2018 has been a bad year for cyber incursions, and barring a Christmas miracle, I am betting 2019 will be worse.  The 2018 Department of Defense (DoD) Cyber Strategy provided our cyber warfighters an early Christmas gift “to defend forward, shape the day-to-day competition, and prepare for war.”   It was a welcomed relief.  However, the October 2018 GAO Weapon Systems Cybersecurity report indicated “DoD faces mounting challenges in protecting its weapon systems from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.”  We have come a long way since 2014 – but we have a long way to go.

As we prepare to celebrate the customs and traditions of the holiday season, we gladly substitute the gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh for the ability “to defend against the damaging effects of cyberwarfare, protect our national security, and promote prosperity of our nation.”  As you get ready to head out the door, beware of zombie cookies, eat more sugarplums, run anti-virus software on your navigational applications, and watch out for the Lock, Shock, and Barrel ransomware.

Safe travels, and may joy and peace be yours throughout the New Year!

Sincerely,

Paul

Maj. Gen. Paul Capasso USAF (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Paul Capasso USAF (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Paul Capasso (Ret.) is the vice president of strategic programs at Telos Corporation. See full bio...

The Empower and Protect Blog brings you cybersecurity and information technology insights from top industry experts at Telos.

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