What seemed like an innocent accusation by some US politicians that Russia meddled with the US Presidential elections has fundamentally transformed into the Cold war 2.0, this time it's back and its' Cyber and everyone is involved.
Last week two Russian ex-spies were found poisoned on a bench in London. They were hit with a nerve agent and are now hospitalized in a critical condition. The mystery and intrigue grew by leaps and bounds when researchers found that both Russian and American cyberweapons installed on a Chinese computer.
Calm down people, this was just a simple PC, not a server or network of servers, but still, the espionage felt a little sloppy on this one. There is clearly a developing front in the Cyber war between Russia and the West which started with elections but continues to escalate.
It resembles the Cold War very much, in terms of its chess-like appearance, accept this time they are all in algorithms – with each side trying to outdo the other in countermeasures, to see how far the opponent could or would go.
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According to the Columbia University research and cyber expert Jason Haley, Russia's interference with the Presidential election in 2016 was Putin's response to American involvement in releasing the Panama Papers (secret documents that revealed offshore accounts of some of the wealthiest people in the world, including Putin himself).
In 2016 the Obama administration started the investigations into cyber-retaliation against Russia but ultimately left it to the Trump administration.
The current administration is so divided over this issue that no decision was even brought to the Commander-In-Chief. To date, the administration has not retaliated against Russian cyber-advances.
A lot of people are getting really frustrated by this. In a bold move, the director of the NSA Mike Rogers publicly admitted that he has not been directed by the White House to conduct a counter-measure.
While the US has its hands tied behind its back, London (the place where the most recent spy game has been so brutally witnessed is in an outrage and has vowed to retaliate if something like this happens again. Turns out, that the Russian spy Skripal (the one that was poisoned) gave away military secrets to MI6 and had been given refuge in the UK.
In reality, there is really no way to stop a government-backed cyber team as strong as the one Russia uses. Cyber weapons continue and will continue to improve and many experts believe that the only antidote is to create artificial intelligence (AI) powerful enough to predict human error and vulnerabilities and stop cyber-attacks before they even happen.
The obvious challenge is - what is stopping a country like Russia from developing their own AI platforms?
Russia is still behind in the AI race so we have some time. Everyone - from large corporations to government agencies - should incorporate artificial intelligence and training to start learning vulnerabilities and preventing cybercrime.
There are several startups that are creating cybersecurity products using AI in the US, and more money and resources should be invested there.
The AI race, similar to the race for the Nuclear Bomb, is on, and no one but AI is able to stop it. The only downer is that the same technology we build today could decimate us tomorrow, but who knows?
This is the quickest game of chess you have ever seen and the Russians are famous for being Chess Champions. Keeping everyone safe is going to mean staying several steps ahead, regardless of cost.
By James Azar on 3/13/18
Article first reported at CyberHub Summit