Countries must collude on dark web terror, expert says

Countries must collude on dark web terror, expert says

Cybercriminals worldwide are seen stepping up their game and creating more devastating cybercrimes

Participants at CyberTech 2016 Conference (Courtesy: Gilad Kavalerchik)
Participants at CyberTech 2016 Conference (Courtesy: Gilad Kavalerchik)

The Western world must increase its collaboration to fight cybercrime just as it has learned to collaborate over the years to fight terrorism, Haim Tomer, a former chief of intelligence and operations at Israel’s Mossad, said in an interview.

“Over the past 10 years new kinds of infected mushrooms have grown within the darkness of the web,” where illegal activities are taking place, leading to a “battle between good and evil,” he said in a phone interview with The Times of Israel.

And just as the “bad guys” took advantage of aviation systems, starting with hijacking planes and culminating with the Twin Towers attack, terrorists similarly understand they can manipulate the web and use it as a reliable way to communicate, plot, and disseminate misinformation and mayhem. “This brings us the intelligence challenge on how to cope with the bad guys in places where they are comfortable. We need to develop counter-terrorism on the web.”

Private companies and governments need to focus on the dark web and develop ways to get a tech edge to fight cybercrime, which is getting more intense over time, he said.

Haim Tomer, a former chief of intelligence and operations at Israel's Mossad was a speaker at CyberTech 2017 (Courtesy)
Haim Tomer, a former chief of intelligence and operations at Israel’s Mossad was a speaker at CyberTech 2017 (Courtesy)

Cybercriminals worldwide are expected to step up their game this year using artificial intelligence and manipulating sources of information to create stronger and more devastating attacks, experts at Israeli cybersecurity firm CyberArk warned last month.

By infiltrating and manipulating sources of information, hackers will strive to undermine people’s trust in the integrity of data they receive, use artificial intelligence to drive more sophisticated cyberattacks, and increase collaboration to unleash greater mayhem, the firm’s security experts said in a report on cybersecurity predictions for 2017.

Hackers globally, whether nation-based or cybercriminals, will also learn from each others’ attacks, identify best practices and copy them on broader scale, unleashing a new wave of threats, the CyberArk report said. This will put pressure on public and private organizations to step up collaborations and prioritize ways to incorporate intelligence gained from these attacks into new innovations to beat the attackers at their own game.

In November, Israel and the US said they would collaborate more closely on cybersecurity research and development.

Increasing mobile and web usage and social media are among the key factors contributing to the “explosive increase” in cyberthreats, MarketsandMarkets, a Dallas, Texas-based market research firm said in a report.

More intense attacks

At the end of last year, Yahoo suffered the world’s biggest hack to date, in which the company discovered a 3-year-old security breach that enabled a hacker to compromise more than 1 billion user accounts. In 2015 hackers shut down power in Ukraine. In February 2016 more than $80 million was stolen from Bangladesh’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and US intelligence services have blamed Russia for hacking attacks during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Israel is considered a global leader in cyberdefense technologies, and cybersecurity startups raised a record $581 million of capital last year. At the end of 2016 there were 365 cybersecurity companies active in Israel, compared to 187 in 2012, according to data compiled by Startup Nation Central, a non profit organization, and PitchBook.

The global cybersecurity market will be worth more than $170 billion by 2020, according to an estimate by MarketsandMarkets, with companies globally focusing on security solutions but also services.

To tackle these new challenges, problems first need to be identified and defined in different sectors, said Tomer, who is today a consultant on cybersecurity. Then an analysis of the huge amount of information available on the web needs to be performed and tailor-made to the various sectors and cooperation between nations needs to increase to crack down on cyberterror, he said.

“Everyone is working seriously on these issues, both unilaterally and multilaterally,” he said. Multilateral cooperation must be increased to win the battle, he said.

Tomer is a speaker at the CyberTech 2017 conference being held in Tel Aviv this week.

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