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Conventional Thinking Won't Work in New Era of ISIS & 'Unprecedented' Cyber & Non-Cyber Attacks

Khaled Fattal

Conventional thinking or solutions will no longer work in the new era of ISIS and the 'Unprecedented' cyber and non-cyber attacks we live in today. Like it or not, everyone is impacted, and no one is immune. Whether you are an average citizen, a chairman or CEO of a multinational, or a government or academic institution leader, the questions to ponder are: Do you know what to do next? Do you know what the solution is?

This new era is already upon us, and it has already changed our lives and the way we live and do things dramatically, and this impact will continue to worsen for the foreseeable future if we don't change the way we do things. What is very worrying is that all the signs indicate that majority of leaders and top decision makers are either unaware, too slow to act and adapt or simply don't know what to do next.

ISIS has been using the Internet to great success to cyber attack us, promote its hate agenda, and to recruit new followers to commit cyber and non-cyber terrorist acts in their name. Recently they have been teaching followers online how to lure innocent people to murder and slaughter them and commit the unthinkable.

Many recent terrorist attacks such as those in Nice, and Paris France, San Bernadino, California, Belgium's Brussels train station and in Manchester England were all either organized, perpetrated or inspired by ISIS and its hate agenda.

More critically, cyber also became ISIS's new war frontier to unleash its destruction motivation on the world since 2015. And their cyber war on us will rise exponentially in the very near future.

Equally alarming is that traditional cyber strategies are failing on daily basis and at unprecedented scales. The unsophisticated WannaCry Ransomware attack on May 12, 2017, hit more than 150 countries causing great damage and chaos all over the world especially the UK and its NHS. On December 14, 2016, Yahoo announced 1 Billion user accounts were hacked back in 2013. Yahoo's sale price to Verizon was slashed by $350 million as a result of that breach reflecting almost a 10% loss of value. On October 21st, 2016, the Mirai botnet was used in the largest DDoS attack of its kind ever. It targeted DNS provider Dyn and shut down Twitter, the New York Times, PayPal, Etsy, Shopify, Netflix, Soundcloud, Spotify, and others. It hit on an unprecedented scale, with clear "Geo-Political" motivation to damage 'Trust', a critical pillar of our socio-economic model. The TV5Monde French TV station cyber hack June 2015 was claimed by "CyberCaliphate" on behalf of ISIS. And in early February 2017 ISIS attacked many NHS trusts defacing and destroying many websites and servers.

If all this does not act as a wakeup call that everything has changed and that things now have to be done differently and innovatively, then nothing else will.

This new and grave responsibility cannot be punted down to the IT or cyber security department but now falls squarely on the shoulders of leaders, top decision makers, and their boards. They need to come to terms with this alarming new era and ask for outside help on how to mitigate these new cyber and non-cyber threats before they are breached, crippled or even destroyed.

Simply relying on governments' guidance on 'best practice', or on being 'compliant' to new regulations is 'nice' and a 'lovely' check box filler, but is most certainly not enough and will not work. Survivability is now at stake.

Just remember that it was not the UK's new National Cyber Security Center that cost 1.9 Billion taxpayer pounds that stopped the WannaCry attack on the NHS, it was a 22-year-old IT dropout who discovered the solution and registered a $10 domain name to stop the attacks.

One bit of good news: those who do act in time will give themselves a unique opportunity to turn this it into competitive advantage for years to come.

Dr. Vint Cerf, known globally as one of the fathers of the Internet, once said few years ago: "Adapt or Die". He was right back then and so right today.

Only those who adapt ASAP and before they are breached can survive the traditional and destruction motivated cyber- and non-cyber-terrorism and this new era of the 'unprecedented'. As to the others, well, I don't think prayers can help.

I leave you with these other questions to ponder:

Does your organization know what to do next to survive in this new era?
Do you know how to turn these new threats into a competitive advantage?
Will you be the next victim to be crippled or destroyed?

By Khaled Fattal, Group Chairman, The Multilingual Internet Group. More blog posts from Khaled Fattal can also be read here.

Related topics: Cyberattack, Cybersecurity, DDoS


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