NSA’s Sager on cyberwarfare, likelihood of 'digital Pearl Harbor'

NSA’s Sager on cyberwarfare, likelihood of 'digital Pearl Harbor'

Date: Oct 14, 2011

Cyberwarfare is a reality, and while the U.S. government is understandably reluctant to reveal details about the activities of particular nations, it’s clear enterprises must prepare for the likelihood that a nation state attack will affect them in the near future, if it hasn’t already.

What’s the best way to respond? According to the NSA, enterprises must think like attackers.

“This idea of think like the attacker means don't try to build a perfect defense for every possible scenario ...  because that's impossible. You just can't afford it. It's too hard,” said Tony W. Sager, chief operating officer of the Information Assurance Directorate of the NSA. “But you have to look at, how are we being exploited? You don't need to build perfection," Sager said, but do just enough to disrupt the lifecycle of the attacker and disrupt the attacker's effort to get the access, information or result he or she needs to succeed.

In this interview from the second annual NSA Trusted Computing Conference in Orlando, Sager discusses the questions surrounding the likelihood of  a “digital Pearl Harbor” cyberattack, the trouble identifying the origin of a major cyberattack like Operation Aurora and why doing just enough to disrupt attackers is the ideal enterprise cyberdefense strategy.

Related videos:

NSA’s Sager on trends of 2011 security breaches, advanced persistent threat hype

Inside the NSA trusted computing strategy

More on Emerging Information Security Threats

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