How Far the Cyber Threat and Conversation Have Come

The government and private industry must become more active in combating infiltration of their cyber networks, said Greg Schaffer, assistant secretary for cyber security and communications in the Department of Homeland Security. Speaking at AFA’s CyberFutures Conference last week, Schaffer said much has changed in the realm of cyber criminality since the late 1990s. Back then, working in the Justice Department, Schaffer said he and his fellow litigators were often wading into undefined territory as far as dealing with hacking attacks on government and public companies. Today, the cyber domain is a part of the nation’s economic bloodstream and cyber threats are far stealthier and aimed primarily at three large target areas: trade and industry secrets, government property, and intellectual property, said Schaffer. In the last three years, DHS has had a threefold increase in reports of threats and attempted network attacks, he noted. More often than not, “offense wins and defense loses in this environment,” he said. That paradigm can’t survive. The good news, Schaffer said, is that relations between government and private business in this area have never been better.