Black Hat Attendees Warned of Coming Cyber-War by Ex-CIA Official
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LAS VEGAS -- The former U.S. counter-terrorism official who raised the alarm that a major terrorist attack was coming before 9/11 is now warning that cyber-war is an imminent threat.
The security community needs to influence and educate government decision makers about the potential threats from cyber-criminals and nation-states, Cofer Black, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency s Counterterrorist Center, said in his keynote speech at Black Hat conference on Aug. 3. Cofer was the U.S. Department of State s coordinator for counter-terrorism with the rank of ambassador at large from December, 2002 to November 2004.
Many of the top decision makers, Cofer said, are still ignorant of the threats that are out there and how they target major corporations, government agencies and the defense industry.
Even as the security professionals try to warn the decision makers, they may not be believed or taken seriously, Black said. When Al-Qaeda was gaining strength in the mid-1990s, and up until the 9/11 attacks, terrorist threats were not well understood. So many top government officials dismissed the warnings he and other counter-terrorism analysts were voicing that a major attack was coming.
"The problem is decision makers don t understand the threats completely because they have not personally experienced them. They may hear it, but they don t believe it," Black said. Black said the threat of Al Queda appears to be fading from prominence, but cyber-attacks will escalate.
"We had the Cold War, the global war on terrorism and now you have the Code War which is your war," he said.
A 28-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, Black said the lead up to 9/11 may be analogous to what s happening with targeted persistent attacks carried out against the defense industry and other high-profile targets.
"The validation of that threat will come into your world," Black said. "There is an analogy to the tech world in all of this and the situation in your world is far more challenging than you may appreciate."