An intelligence officer from the US has said that the newest wave of cyberthreats could come via data manipulation and deletion. By losing such information, or having analysis purposefully skewed, online criminals could do all manner of damage; therefore, it is crucial that officials take the matter of evolving cybercrime seriously.
Talking at the House intelligence committee, James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, said that the next phase of online data security and theft is likely to revolve around digital information manipulation. Backed by Admiral Michael Rogers, the director for the National Security Agency (NSA), Mr Clapper said that although the manifestations of such crimes were yet to appear, governmental agencies and US businesses had to prepare themselves for persistent threats from low and moderately dangerous sources. “I believe the next push on the envelope is going to be the manipulation or the deletion of data, which would of course compromise its integrity,” Mr Clapper added.
Meanwhile, Admiral Rogers said that although the US Cyber Command and NSA had clear rules that would protect networks in the US, its authority in how to engage offensively is murkier. There remains “uncertainty about what is offensive and what is authorised”, Admiral Rogers said, adding: “That’s a policy decision.” He also suggested that a freer hand is required by Cyber Command and the NSA, saying: “A purely defensive strategy is not going to change the dynamic we find ourselves in now.”
It was also revealed that Admiral Rogers’ previous pleas to conduct surreptitious surveillance of end-to-end encrypted data have been backed by James Comey, director of the FBI. Arguments against such plans have been that sensitive data could be opened to increased insecurity; however, Mr Comey said that technologists haven’t truly tried to find a solution that would provide access without putting information at risk.
The NSA has now provided 19 specific recommendations to help avoid any future hack; however, Admiral Rogers was not able to provide an answer as to why four million personal records were recently stolen. “I don’t think anyone is satisfied with the environment we find ourselves in right now,” he said.
With cyberthreats continuing to grow, it is vital that governments and businesses around the world shore up their defences and prepare for the inevitable attack. As time goes on and threats evolve, data manipulation and deletion could well become an emerging crime and one that firms must keep a close eye upon.
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