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The Worldwide Threat Assessment Report released by the U.S. Intelligence community for 2014 indicates that cyber-related threats are still the top concern for securing the nation and private industry.

The report states that as our society continues to become ever more dependent on digital technologies, threats to the security of “essential government functions, industry and commerce, health care, social communication, and personal information” continues to spike.

The authors note that despite a United Nations Group of Governmental Experts who concluded in 2013 that international laws and the UN Charter also apply to cyberspace, many powerful nations have starkly different views on many central matters.

“Russia and China continue to hold views substantially divergent from the United States on the meaning and intent of international cyber security,” the report states. “These divergences center mostly on the nature of state sovereignty in the global information environment states’ rights to control the dissemination of content online, which have long forestalled major agreements.”

The report goes on to warn that we should prepare for increasingly destructive attacks that are designed to render systems inoperable or could delete critical information as advanced malware and techniques continue to evolve and proliferate, citing two specific examples from 2013:

  • In March 2013, South Korea suffered a sizable cyber attack against its commercial and media networks, damaging tens of thousands of computer workstations. The attack also disrupted online banking and automated teller machine services. Although likely unrelated to the 2012 network attack against Saudi Aramco, these attacks illustrate an alarming trend in mass data-deletion and system-damaging attacks.
  • In early 2013, the US financial sector faced wide-scale network denial-of-service attacks that became increasingly difficult and costly to mitigate.

“In response to these and similar developments, many countries are creating cyber defense institutions within their national security establishments,” the report said. “We estimate that several of these will likely be responsible for offensive cyber operations as well.”

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