We are excited to bring Transform 2022 back in-person July 19 and virtually July 20 – 28. Join AI and data leaders for insightful talks and exciting networking opportunities. Register today!
Predicting cyberthreats has been an elusive goal. Unlike in healthcare, where early diagnostics can be used to predict and hopefully prevent disease, cybersecurity has never had a reliable means for determining that an attack is coming. This is especially true for isolated cyberbreaches, such as data theft, which are often decided on a whim.
That said, it’s been noticed by this author recently that certain historical patterns do exist that can be used to predict large-scale cyberthreats. Sadly, as will be shown below, analysis and extrapolation of the patterns suggest an uncomfortable progression toward a major global cyberwar. Let’s go through the relevant patterns.
Threat pattern 1: Worms
In 1988, the first worm was created by a student with the innocent goal of determining whether such a program might work. This was followed by a long period of minimal worm activity, only to be broken in 2003 by a major rash of worms such as Slammer, Blaster and Nachi. These worms caused significant disruption to major business operations.
The pattern here was that an initial small-scale attack occurred in 1988, followed by 15 years of relative quiet, which ended with a significant large-scale attack in 2003. Worms still represent a cyberthreat, but not much change has occurred in their design since 2003. Worms are now in a period of relative quiet once again.
Threat pattern 2: Botnets
In 1999, the first botnet appeared, followed by a similar attack in March of 2000. This was followed by a period of relative quiet in terms of DDoS attack design innovation. Attack volumes, for example, remained relatively constant until 13 years later when Iranian hackers launched a series of massive layer 3/7 DDoS attacks at US banks.
Again, the pattern was that an initial small-scale attack occurred in 1999, followed by 13 years of quiet, which ended with a large-scale event in 2012. Like worms, botnets are also still a security problem, but they have not experienced much…