Obama Talks Tough on CyberCrime

by Matt Klassen on April 6, 2015

Although President Obama signed his latest executive order on April Fools Day his intent to stem the tide of cyber-crime was no joke, as the order gives the Secretary of Treasury “the authority to impose sanctions on entities found responsible for or complicit in carrying out a cyber-attack harmful to US interests.”

“Starting today, we’re giving notice to those who pose significant threats to our security or economy by damaging our critical infrastructure, disrupting or hijacking our computer networks, or stealing the trade secrets of American companies or the personal information of American citizens for profit,” said the President.

The President’s tough stance on cyber-crime comes after a year where devastating digital threats seemed almost a part of the daily news, with everyone from regular citizens, to huge corporations, to the government itself victims of “malicious cyber actors” who attempt to profit off US interests.

“Effective incident response requires the ability to increase the costs and reduce the economic benefits from malicious cyber activity,” Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, wrote in a statement. “And this means, in addition to our existing tools, we need a capability to deter and impose costs on those responsible for significant harmful cyber activity where it really hurts — at their bottom line.”

While chasing hackers is a difficult business, given that their phsyical location could be anywhere in the world, the White House is attacking the problem from a different angle, making it more difficult for hackers to profit off the information they steal. The executive order targets those responsible for the hacks and those who may be interested in purchasing such stolen information, imposing sanctions on involved parties and adding them to a watch list that would prevent travel to theUnited States.

The goal, of course, is to make cyber-crime less lucrative by making it more difficult to profit, and given that hackers usually need to know their payoff will be worth the risk of the crime itself, the hope is it will deter the more malicious attacks against both government and business interests.

“This new executive order is specifically designed to be used to go after the most significant malicious cyber actors we face,” Monaco wrote. “It is not a tool that we will use every day.”

While Obama’s latest push against cyber-crime certainly provides new ways of punishing those responsible for cyber-crime against US interests, it does little to aid in the systematic investigation, identification, and classification of threats. Further, the order avoids formalizing how the administration will deal with such “cyber actors” who are funded by foreign governments.

That said, the President’s executive order is but a start to a more formalized approach to cyber-crime, one that looks to prepare the country for what could be a dark future of cyber-warfare as well.

“There seems to be a general consensus that the next world war will be fought at least partially in cyberspace,” Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told TechNewsWorld. “So creating a framework, with an executive order of this sort, can begin to create the framework for a formal governmental response to an attack.”

“You don’t want to wait until the digital equivalent ofPearl Harborhappens before you plan how you will retaliate and create the legal framework for retaliation as well,” King explained.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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