2 minutes to midnight: Countdown to cyberwar

Big Data, Analytics & Cyber Solution Leader, IBM

Tick...tock...tick...can you hear it? It’s the cyber-doomsday clock, a 1947 relic of the Cold War with a new mission, counting down to a new catastrophe called cyberwarfare.

What is cyberwarfare? This term is heard on the news and used as the theme of countless books and movies, but do we really understand it? Look at some recent incidents:

  • Were the Sony, Office of Personnel Management, State Department or IRS breaches acts of war or merely espionage? Is there a difference?
  • How did foreign intelligence agencies manage to compromise secure, disconnected US military networks?
  • Is there any way to defend against trusted insiders who abscond with enough classified information to fill a fleet of trucks?

Unfortunately, if the past is any indication, it will take an unprecedented cyberattack to really jolt us into the proper mind-set to address the threat—but if cyberwarfare escalates, what would such attacks look like? Where would they most likely come from and what systems would be attacked first? Is the government ready to protect the private sector? Most importantly, how would we respond?  

Join us for an interactive Google hangout on August 20, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. ET when noted authors and industry experts will examine these questions and discuss what governments, companies and individuals can do to deter, detect, protect and defend against this new and dangerous threat.

Hear expert answers to questions like:

  • CyberWar_Blog.jpgWhat is cyberwarfare? When was the digital environment first recognized as a possible battlefield?
  • What would the early signs of a cyberattack look like? Would we immediately know it was part of a cyberattack? Can you separate cybercrime from actual cyberwarfare?
  • Given the anonymity of the Internet, how good are we at determining where the attack originated—that is, what computer it’s coming from, the person at that computer and who the hackers work for?
  • Where do the most advanced threats originate (such as Russia, China, Iran or Anonymous)? Which assets, organizations or infrastructures are the most probable targets for these entities?
  • Given that some of the most damaging instances of data theft were done by trusted insiders—for example, Chi Mak (and the Red Flower of North America), Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden—are you seeing integration of insider threats, candidate screening and physical security with traditional cybersecurity initiatives? If not, does it need to happen?
  • What if cyberwarfare is launched by an activist or hacking group within the boundaries of a nation-state, but not the nation-state itself? Are both parties responsible?
  • How safe are we? Are the world’s democracies prepared? How do democracies balance the need for relevant intelligence to thwart or prevent cyberattacks without violating the privacy of citizen data?
  • What role will artificial intelligence and machine learning play in cyberwarfare?


Richard Stiennon is a veteran of the security industry, and as an industry analyst, has years of experience advising enterprises, vendors and government agencies on their security strategies. He continues to help large enterprises better protect their networks and to help vendors serve those needs. Richard is the author of Surviving Cyberwar (Government Institutes, 2010) and UP and to the RIGHT: Strategy and Tactics of Analyst Influence (IT-Harvest Press, 2012).

Bob Stasio is the Senior Product Manager of Cyber Analysis at IBM i2 Safer Planet. He brings nearly 14 years of rare expertise fighting top-tier malicious actors through his work in the intelligence community, the United States military, the National Security Agency and the commercial sector. Bob served on the initial staff of US Cyber Command. Serving in Iraq during “The Surge,” Bob’s intelligence unit supported the detainment of over 450 high-value targets.

Andrew Friedrich is the federal director of big data, cybersecurity and information management solutions. He has an extensive background in security solution design and delivery across national security missions, financial services and state and local government. His employment history spans everything from enterprise software companies to grassroots, high-tech startups.

Register for the IBM i2 Summit to learn more about cyberthreat detection, cybersecurity and protecting your organization.

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