Malicious Actors Who Pose Cyber Security Risks

The extent to which cyber activity is now used for both criminal and adversarial purposes has prompted government agencies to give advice on how businesses and other organizations can enhance their cyber security. The subject of cyber risk and security threats was addressed by the United States Defense Science Board in a report published in 1996.[1] The report provides a succinct summary of the broad range of sources for possible cyber security threats. While the report was intended for use by military specialists in preparation for cyber warfare, the potential threat sources can also have applicability to businesses and other non-military organizations. The Defense Science Board report highlighted the following potential threats:

  • • Incompetent, inquisitive, or unintentional blunderers, mischief- makers, and pranksters
  • • Hackers driven by technical challenge
  • • A disgruntled employee or unhappy customer intent on seeking revenge for some perceived wrong
  • • A criminal interested in personal financial gain or stealing services
  • • A major organized crime operation interested in financial gain or in covering their crimes
  • • An individual political dissident attempting to draw attention to a cause
  • • An organized terrorist group or nation-state trying to influence government policy by isolated attacks
  • • Foreign espionage agents seeking to exploit information for economic, political, or military intelligence purposes
  • • A tactical countermeasure intended to disrupt a specific military weapon or command system
  • • A multifaceted tactical information warfare capability applied in a broad orchestrated manner to disrupt a major military mission
  • • A large organized group or major nation-state intent on overthrowing the government by crippling the national information infrastructure

The critically important role that businesses play in the economic welfare of a country, or a number of countries in the case of a multinational corporation, means there now is the very real risk of being targeted by a foreign government, or a terrorist group(s) as discussed in the previous chapter. The possibility of cyber warfare that would include attacks on businesses and other organizations has occupied the attention of military minds since the present era of information technology began.

  • [1] D.P. Andrews (1996) Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Information Warfare-Defense, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, November1996. Washington, DC.
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