Counter Cyber Intelligence



Professional spies in the service of nation states, businesses, organized crime and terrorist organizations target and steal secret information from the public and private sectors to use and sell. Traditional foreign espionage efforts attack the heart of national security and any country's well-being. Non-traditional espionage efforts attack the competitiveness and prosperity of our businesses. When you add the recent increases in cyber intelligence collection efforts, the threat has risen to unprecedented levels and triggered numerous warnings from experts around the globe. To put this threat in perspective, in the 2008 Top Ten Cyber Security Menaces by the SANS Institute, cyber espionage ranked number three. In order to counter this threat, you need to understand counter intelligence and counter cyber intelligence.

Counter Intelligence (CI) is defined as the efforts made by intelligence organizations to prevent adversaries or enemy intelligence organizations from gathering and collecting sensitive information or intelligence about them. Many governments create counter intelligence organizations separate and distinct from their intelligence collection counterparts.

Counter Cyber Intelligence (CCI) is defined as all efforts made by one intelligence organization to prevent adversaries, enemy intelligence organizations or criminal organizations from gathering and collecting sensitive digital information or intelligence about them via computers, networks and associated equipment. CCI are measures to identify, penetrate, or neutralize computer operations that use cyber weapons as a means and mechanism to collect information.

Tracking, analyzing, and countering cyber intelligence collection efforts are increasingly difficult challenges as the growth of state sponsored cyber espionage, terrorist groups and criminal empires in the increasingly global marketplace combine to compound and obscure these growing threats to the United States and our allies. Washington is coming to grips with the challenge of cyber intelligence and counter cyber intelligence. Within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence you will find the Office of the National Counter intelligence Executive (ONCIX). ONCIX is headed by Dr. Brenner, the National Counter intelligence Executive and staffed by senior counter intelligence (CI) and other specialists from across the national intelligence and security communities. Dr. Brenner said, there is growing acceptance that we face a cyber counter intelligence problem, not a security problem. He has also stated that about 140 foreign intelligence surveillance organizations currently target the United States. As you may recall we reported earlier that Spy-Ops has estimated that there are currently 140 countries with active cyber warfare programs in place.

Successful cyber espionage attacks are impacting our politics, military and economy. The nature of the cyber threat is both complex and constantly changing. With the recent congressional testimony putting information espionage and data theft at $1 trillion worldwide, the magnitude of this threat needs much more attention than it is getting. In a conversation with a Federal CI/CCI Investigator he stated the most of the time when we talk to corporate executives and security professionals, their eyes just glaze over.

This is a reaction I have personally experienced as well. With the up-tick in the frequency of attacks coupled with recent adversarial cyber activity that includes network reconnaissance, scanning and outright assaults along all of the thirty-two cyber attack vectors the demand for counter cyber intelligence is clear. The United States remains the prime target for foreign economic collection and cyber espionage efforts by virtue of its global technological leadership, innovation and heavy reliance on computer systems. Foreign collection efforts continue to target a wide variety of sensitive security and competitive information and technologies in virtually every sector around the world.

INTEL: The Bundesamt fr Verfassungsschutz (BfV), the German equivalent of the CIA in the U.S. and MI5 in the UK, is taking the role of coordinating corporate and industrial espionage and fighting cyber-attacks from foreign secret services.

INTEL: Nearly 1 million computers belonging to German companies are believed to be infected with malicious software that covertly steals and forwards sensitive information to foreign controlled computers -- including machines belonging to competitors. Several reports have surfaced stating that computers in the German Chancellor's office have reportedly been infected.

INTEL: According to its latest research by Intelomics, cyber espionage efforts that are funded by criminal organizations and both government-backed and private efforts is expected to accelerate significantly during the next decade.

INTEL: One of the most common cyber espionage scenarios involves the use of hackers to break into a competitor's IT systems and gather competitive information in order to gain a sales advantage and as a benefit at the bargaining table.

INTEL: The global intelligence community refers to cyber espionage as the "Unrelenting Threat."

-- Kevin Coleman

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