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October 7, 2015

Governments and Corporations Team Up Against Cybercrime

Posted by Dr. Ashutosh Saxena (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:33 AM

Global cybersecurity market will be worth $170 billion in 2020  [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5jx6d7xRIM]

There are government contracts and then there are government contracts. The technology giant Raytheon recently announced that it won a five-year contract to help manage the computer security of 100 civilian agencies connected to the Department of Homeland Security. Experts said that such a contract, where Raytheon shares its proprietary cybercrime-fighting techniques and tools, could be worth upwards of US$ 1 billion. The official role for the company will be that of a 'prime contractor and systems integrator' for the Network Security Deployment division. Attached to that division is the National Cybersecurity Protection System.

We're hearing a lot about cyber security again, and it's not even the holiday shopping season. Why is that the case? For one, cybercrimes are no longer centered on jolly shoppers and their credit cards at Big Box retail chains and online retailers. Criminals are getting more sophisticated and learning to break into whatever computer system they can. Once in, experts say they can maneuver and sometimes patiently wait until they find the right digital gateway that brings them to a stash of information - otherwise known as a cyber-criminal's pot of gold.

Intelligence chiefs at Raytheon tell us that global cyber-security 'incidents'- which is a vague enough term to include both a cyber-thief's successes and failed attempts - have increased by an average of 66 percent between 2009 and 2014. Even in the Europe, the number of Data Protection Act (DPA) breaches reported to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) from the financial services sector has increased by 183% in the last two years. These are enormous rates of increase.

Even with failed attempts thrown into the mix, every 'incident' requires some level of vigilance to prevent a crime from happening. That translates into time and money on the part of the organization defending against the criminal activities. Raytheon spokesmen said that their company alone had spent US$ 3.5 billion over the past few years strengthening its cybercrime-fighting capabilities.

A breach of some kind can result in irreparable harm to an organization's reputation. When that organization is consumer-facing in nature, guarding its resources and its reputation against even more aggressive cyberattacks dig even deeper into a budget. You can be rest assured that the Big Box and online retailers that were hit last year are doing everything in their power to make sure a high-profile breach doesn't happen again. In baseball, three strikes mean you're out. Cyber-crime? If your organization gets hit twice, it's a warning sign to consumers that the organization cannot be trusted to guard their (financial) information. Two strikes means they're out. The threshold for failure is much lower in the retail world than it is in baseball!

Moreover, the Internet of Things (IoT) - where appliances and other devices are connected and controlled online - has created new dimensions to cyber threat. Once, a professor in a research lab of a university claimed that he was able to send a 'kill' command to an implantable medical device. As IoT gains momentum, the risk of cyber attacks will grow exponentially. Especially when cyber attackers could very easily gain access to that 'kill' command.

What, then, can organizations do to stay one step ahead of the criminals? The answer, interestingly enough, comes from government programs that help take privately innovated technology and bring it to market. These new technologies that the public sector helps make commercially viable include, the Network Mapping System, a toolkit that lets users know what is connected to their network and by extension what to watch out for. Its acronym is NeMS, and you'll be seeing more of it mentioned in the press as shoppers begin to plunk down their credit cards this season. An American company called Cambridge Global Advisors has licensed NeMS with help from the government's Livermore National Laboratory.

NeMS is actually the third cybercrime-fighting tool to go to market this year. The two others are known as Quantum Secured Communication and Hyperion. The fact that there are three technologies, all distinctly serving different types of cybercrime-fighting roles, is evidence that the crooks are getting more sophisticated. It's reassuring that a public-private effort is underway to keep moving promising tools to market.

Such tools not only can advance the prominence of organizations that safeguard sensitive and valuable information. They can also stand as a visible sign that companies and governments are extremely serious about stamping out what has been a scourge of innovative businesses and the free markets for far too long.


Cyber crime is definitely becoming tougher to detect. The banking industry is now working with over a dozen government agencies to create new departments and processes for cracking down on cyber crime

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