This week in cyber, the media is abuzz with news of President Obama’s impending announcement of NSA reforms. Tucked into the Friday news dump, the general consensus is that the January 17 announcement will be largely lacklustre, especially given the limited power of the Executive. With a new report by the New America Foundation questioning the efficacy of NSA surveillance in stopping terrorism, the issue will likely continue to hang over Washington and the Cyber Wrap far into the New Year.
Elsewhere in the States, retail executives are pushing for tougher security standards following major cyberattacks against Target and Neiman Marcus. This shift in position could be a coup for US consumer protection efforts, with many now pushing for more robust credit card protection including the ‘chip-and-pin’ system widely adopted elsewhere in the world.
The UK is making its own efforts to increase cyber safety, launching a Cyber Streetwise campaign. Finding that only 44% of consumers regularly install Internet security software, security minister James Brokenshire has emphasized how a ‘few simple steps’ can help secure information and thwart cybercriminals.
China’s State Internet Information Office is tackling its own cyber demons in the form of ‘Human Flesh Searches’. While many would consider the vigilante effort to investigate personal details of suspected wrongdoers to be positive cyber activism, the government has the practice clearly in its crosshairs.
Finally, can modelling predict the next major cyberattack? Robert Axelrod and Rumen Iliev are taking a crack at predicting the timing of the next cyberbattle. Their model suggests that taking into account the nature of the cyberweapon, stealth, persistence, and risk thresholds, their model could calculate the optimum timing for a cyberattack. Of course with limited real world data to test on, the modelling of cyberwar remains an imperfect, but fascinating art.
Klee Aiken is an analyst in ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre.