The Russian hack and securing our 5G broadband future

It doesn’t look like a four-letter word but, as with all things in the realm of cyberspace and security, looks can be deceiving. News of the Russian hack of literally tens of thousands of government agencies and many of our largest companies has suddenly made our vulnerability painfully real — especially at a time when the pandemic has expanded our use of cyber space into virtually every aspect of daily living. “Work From Home” (WFH), food delivery, on-line retail, telehealth, and distance learning are only examples of a myriad of daily life functions that have suddenly been transformed from in-person to an increasingly digitally accessed world. While empowering, this digital transformation is also creating new digital vulnerabilities.

The bad guy is in the house

That old horror movie line is suddenly a chilling possibility for vast portions of the United States public and private networks. The “high trade craft” introduction of sleeper malware into a seemingly routine upgrade of Solar Winds Orion software between March and June of 2020 has exposed large sectors of U.S. infrastructure to malicious actors who can not only spy on sensitive and secret information, but also invisibly manipulate the underlying systems that actually run key segments of our society. Left unchecked, the potential mischief and real damage is incalculable, and the really scary thing is that, unless we’re very careful, they’ll be watching us do whatever we try to do to fix it from inside the house.

Cyber security is national security

The primary function of our National Security agencies is to protect the American way of life. Increasingly the traditional “analog” threats that have challenged our armed forces and intelligence agencies have been made worse, or supplanted, by cyber threats that have the capacity to inflict both tactical and strategic damage as bad or worse than conventional weapons. The pandemic and the exponential expansion of our use of the Internet has accelerated the pace of our adoption of broadband enabled…