With cyber technology being integrated and implemented into everything from politics to healthcare, cyber attacks are becoming one of the most dangerous threats to our society. In light of the recent allegations of Russia hacking DNC emails to influence the election, it has become a greater concern than ever. So much so, that former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell has compared cyber attacks to 9/11. In an interview with The Cipher Brief, he stated, “A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life. To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11. It is huge and the fact that it hasn’t gotten more attention from the Obama Administration, Congress, and the mainstream media, is just shocking to me.”
The idle attitude of those in authority toward the recent attacks and overall cyber security within the political realm is beginning to shift to some degree. Recently, Democratic and Republican senators collaborated in requesting a bipartisan panel for the purpose of investigation into foreign sourced cyber attacks.
A Danger to Global Democracy
A large barrier with regard to cyber attacks is the simplicity with which they can achieve great gains. A simple phishing email sent to the right uneducated political employee can provide enough of a breach for a cyber criminal to obtain massive breadths of protected or privileged data. While the DNC hacks were more complex than this, cyber attacks in general have a wide range of possibilities. Whether the information obtained and leaked from the hacks ultimately influenced the election is uncertain. Either way, it displays that cyber attackers have the potential to influence elections, which is a massive danger to not only our political system, but overall global democracy.
President-elect Trump has denied any claims of collusion with Russia or of Russia influencing the election. He of course has every right to assert his fair win, but one concern with this has arisen. That is the fact that U.S. Intelligence agencies are stating a borne out concern, and yet being disregarded by political leaders, which shows a lack of trust. With global tensions increasing, as well as cyber technologies continuing to expand and develop, the purview of cyber attacks may only continue to grow. The scope of the recent attacks sets the stage for moving forward and learning how to defend against these types of threats.