Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Intelligent Machines

Large-scale cyber attacks drive new defenses

  • by Stephen Cass
  • June 22, 2010
  • Hackers gather at Dreamhack, the largest computer gathering in the world, held twice a year in Sweden.

Over the past few years, computer attacks, once largely a nuisance issue, have become a threat to national security. Organized criminals have taken advantage of the shift toward online banking and commerce to compromise the financial identity of millions. Even worse, it’s now possible for hackers to cripple government websites during a conflict, or for governments to spy on businesses. Some people even fear that cyber terrorists could use the Internet to damage critical infrastructure such as power stations (see “Moore’s Outlaws”). Concrete numbers on the economic impact of security failures are hard to come by, but the FBI says that losses from cyber crimes in the United States jumped 112 percent from 2008 to 2009.

Cyber attackers exploit fundamental weaknesses in our computer systems (see “The Attacker’s Advantage”). And the threat only grows as more and more businesses around the world become dependent on the Internet, and as more critical infrastructure goes online. To prevent a disaster, experts are working on new defensive technologies, and organizations are even tightening up internal security to protect themselves from malicious insiders. But given that the attackers and their victims are often in different countries, international coöperation will be crucial to improving security, and the necessary agreements have proved hard to reach (see “Global Gridlock on Cyber Crime).

More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.