Hacking with a Computer Virus: The Emergent Problem of Cyber Crime

The concept of war is chillingly simple.

Step #1: Identify the enemy

Step #2: Attack the enemy

Step #3: Defeat the enemy

But over time, major advances in technology have fundamentally changed the art and execution of war. Gone are the days when conflicts meant facing the enemy and battles were limited by the physical deployment of troops, artillery, sea and air power.  In the 21st century, wars can be conducted remotely with an eerie separation of cause from consequence. The enemy is everywhere as a simple computer virus can be weapon of choice for today's criminal masterminds.  In the wrong hands, software can be as deadly as any weapon of mass destruction.

Cybercrime, which can involve anything from stealing personal information and trade secrets to crippling a city's infrastructure through malicious computer code, is a growing concern in Washington. In February 2013, President Obama acknowledged the threat in his State of The Union address:

"We know hackers steal people's identities and infiltrate private e-mail. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy."

James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, called cybercrime the top national threat at a March Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. And in April, the House of Representatives passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a bill that allows private companies to share customers' personal information in the hopes of preventing new cyberattacks. And most recently, parts of PRISM, a covert government program which monitors foreign communications through the servers of common tech companies, were declassified in June 2013. As of the time of this writing, the story is still unfolding.

This looming digital threat could be good news for those looking to get into the cybersecurity field.  Government officials say there is strong demand for computer experts who can keep cybercriminals at bay. In May, Alec Ross, the Senior Advisor for Innovation at the State Department stated, "If any college student asked me what career would most assure thirty years of steady, well-paying employment, I would respond, 'cybersecurity.'" A number of postsecondary institutions, including Florida online schools, offer a degree in cybersecurity.

In this infographic, we explore new trends in hacking on the digital battlefront and how they're helping to usher in a new breed of soldier – the cyberwarrior.

Sources:

"CISPA Vote: House Passes Cybersecurity Bill To Let Companies Break Privacy Contracts," huffingtonpost.com, Zach Carter and Sabrina Siddiqui, April 18, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-gagnier/obama-cybersecurity-executive-order_b_2674283.html

"White House Cybersecurity Order Accompanies State of the Union Address," huffingtonpost.com, Christina Gagnier, February 12, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-gagnier/obama-cybersecurity-executive-order_b_2674283.html

"Cyber-crime tops threats to U.S., intelligence chief says," articles.latimes.com, Ken Dilanian, March 12, 2013, http://articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/12/news/la-pn-cybercrime-threat-20130312

"For Job Security, Try CyberSecurity, Experts Say," mashable.com, Alex Fitzpatrick, May 29, 2012, http://mashable.com/2012/05/29/cybersecurity-career/

For a complete list of sources, please view the infographic.

Hacking with a Computer Virus: The Emergent Problem of Cybercrime
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