Michael Chertoff


Cyber is the New Battleground

Michael Chertoff, co-founder and executive chairman of The Chertoff Group told New Jersey utilities executives recently that limiting the impact of a cybersecurity breach is key. As reported by session moderator and publisher of NJ-ROI.com Tom Bergeron, Chertoff said containing an attack is as important as stopping one.

Calling cyber the new battleground, Chertoff said cybersecurity protection today is not about trying to build an impenetrable wall around your information technology infrastructure, but having layers of defense that enable you to mitigate problems when they arise.

“Where we are now is in a dynamic situation where the threats and the challenges continue to evolve — even as we make positive changes to improve our security, and to develop strategies for dealing with this,” he said. “But there’s no question that the cyber domain of conflict is now as much of a domain as air, sea, land and even space.”

One of the biggest issues is that cyberattacks can come from anywhere (and often can be done in a way that hides their origin) and, more importantly, can come from another country or simply a rogue individual or organization.

Chertoff said the threats from nation-states are the most troubling.

“Increasingly, our nation-state adversaries look to the cyber domain as an area in which they can undermine us, injure us and even affect our unity of effort and our trust in our leaders,” he said.

“A single individual can do an awful lot of damage, although, when a nation-state gets involved, typically what they are able to do is bring a lot of different resources to an attack. It may be your ability to obtain individual imports that are not widely available — and it can be used to penetrate or undermine systems.”

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Michael Chertoff served as US Secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 until 2009. He is the author of Exploding Data: Reclaiming Our Cyber Security in the Digital Age.

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