The Cyber War Continues, and America is Losing

Over the past decade cyber attacks have increased in both number and severity. According to an article released by pandasecurity.com, “Organizations located in the USA are under an unprecedented amount of ransomware attacks that will very likely to continue to grow. In 2020 alone, hackers executed more than 65,000 attacks on U.S. institutions, which equals to approximately seven attacks per minute.”

Terrorist groups online continue to attack the US and other countries around the world with little to no retaliation other than hot air and empty threats. They attack our food supplies, our fuel lines, our cities, and our jobs. This year during the summer Olympics there were over 450 million attacks launched towards the event. It’s been pretty clear for years that America is the victim of an invisible world war III, a war that threatens our way of life just as much as a war with soldiers in actual combat would.

Yet America and its allies have little to no options on how to deal with the issue since cyber terrorists are nearly impossible to track, let alone prosecute. Even after the ransomware attack against Colonial Pipeline, which resulted in gas shortages all across the East Coast, not a single hacker was caught. It’s scary to think that Big Business can be brought to its knees overnight with zero consequences.

Russia is at the forefront of cyber attacks along with other major countries like Iran and China. So far these governments have been unable to stop the attacks leaving some to believe that the attacks are government sanctioned.

President Biden tried to take action back in July, but so far it has yielded little to no results. He had spoken with his cybersecurity experts to discuss short term options, but long term plans or solutions were largely non-existent. According to The New York Times, “The White House’s argument is that the attacks are emanating from Russian territory, so it is Mr. Putin’s responsibility to take them down — and that the United States will act if he does not.” Since then the attacks from Russia continue unabated with Biden having yet to make a more aggressive stand, making his threats feel empty and pointless.

And it’s not just Russia either. Any country with internet access is likely to have its own hacker groups operating around the world. China has also been accused by the US and its allies as having launched its own wave of cyber attacks. So far nothing has been done about it beyond empty promises.

This lack of action from the US shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering how much President Biden has had to deal with so far during one of the most eventful presidencies in American history. The coronavirus alone has him working around the clock. The White House is simply drowning in crisis with no help in site. Who can you reach out to when you are already at the top?

But sources also warn that even if Biden were to act, doing so would mean taking a huge risk that could easily escalate the situation. This means that Biden may simply be putting things off until a more concrete counter strike can be planned out. Whichever option he chooses, short term or long, could have dire consequences for the US.

Each option runs significant risk, because Russia is capable of escalating its own behavior. And as the ransomware deluge has shown, many companies in the private sector and federal and state government agencies remain rife with vulnerabilities that Russian actors can find and exploit.

By David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth of the New York Times
Many Americans work from home during the pandemic, often using their personal computers to do so. This puts them at risk as well as their company due to being directly connected to the company’s systems while sharing private information.

So what does this mean for the average American? Millions have already been affected by ransomware attacks indirectly with inflated prices due to shortages in supply lines, or losing hours at work due to their company being attacked. Just this week, global customer service powerhouse TTEC was attacked by a ransomware terrorist group called Ragnar Locker. TTEC employs hundreds of thousands of workers across the globe, many of which are being told not to log into work due to TTEC systems being down, which means they are not getting paid for the day. The company also has a huge number of workers who use their own PC at home (via virtual machine software) to do their job, which means their own home networks could be at risk if the company gets hacked and gain access to private information. This can make the average person who isn’t interested in tech news suddenly start caring a great deal about how their company and their government deal with cyber terror.

One thing is for certain, dealing with the problem now instead of later is our best option. Putting an issue like this on the back burner simply will not do. We here at TAC highly recommend that you reach out to your local, state, and federal representatives and ask them to push the envelope on this critical problem. And don’t stop there, reach out to your employer as well and ask them how they are dealing with cyber security to prevent attacks that could cost them dearly. Now is the time to act!

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