Thought Leadership

Crushing Protectionist Silos to Expedite Tech Industry Niche Evolution: Using Social Media to Curate and Disseminate Information

by Drew Spaniel, Researcher, Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology The digital threat landscape is comprised of organization-centric asymmetric warfare theaters populated by innumerable hyper-evolving sophisticated and unsophisticated adversaries with myriad motives, tools, techniques, and procedures. As trite as it sounds, it remains true now more than ever that “knowledge is power.” However, in the Digital .. read more

“The Most Important Vote for the Internet in History” #SaveTheInternet

by James Scott, Sr. Fellow, Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology Last December, FCC chairman Ajit Paj introduced rules that reversed the 2015 Open Internet Order. The 2015 order explicitly banned blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization by Internet providers. It guaranteed free thought and a free market on an open Internet. Paj, a former Verizon lawyer, .. read more

America is Losing the Cyberwar: What’s Next for Our Cyber-Defense without an NSC Cybersecurity Coordinator?

by James Scott, Senior Fellow, Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology Rob Joyce, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator and Acting Deputy of U.S. Homeland Security, concludes his tenure today. Anonymous sources, via traditional corporate media, suggest that he may be the final “cybersecurity czar” of the current, and potentially of future, administration(s).  In the unlikely event that .. read more

Enemies at the Gate: The New Fake News

by James Scott, Co-Founder and Sr. Fellow, Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT), Center for Cyber Influence Operations Studies (CCIOS) The Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT) is a non-partisan, non-profit 501c3 intent on facilitating meaningful dialogue amongst key stakeholders in government and public and private organizations as well as educating the public on Information .. read more

ICIT Analysis: “Facebook Poses a Massive Risk to National Security: But It’s Worse than You Think…”

Dragnet surveillance capitalists turned dragnet surveillance propagandists remain under-controlled to the point that they knowingly operate on a spectrum from criminally negligent to negligently criminal. While it is essential that negligent data brokers face the consequences for their nefarious activities, it is also vital that the underlying disease that founded the environment of their growth .. read more

What is Facebook’s Relationship with China and How Has U.S. Data Been Exposed?

by James Scott, Sr. Fellow, Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT), Center for Cyber Influence Operations Studies (CCIOS) In addition to the questions that Facebook must answer concerning its relationship with Cambridge Analytica and the breach of privacy and security on its platform, legislators must also inquire about its relationship with China and how the .. read more

ICIT Introduces: The Center for Space Warfare Studies (CSWS)

People jest that space is the final frontier, unchartered territory, or other romanticizations. However, in terms of security and warfare, “space” refers to the area immediately surrounding terrestrial bodies. More specifically, space warfare concerns the satellites, defense systems, and critical assets orbiting the Earth in the exosphere and thermosphere and the signals communicated to and .. read more

Why We Are No Longer on Facebook

by James Scott, Sr. Fellow ICIT, CCIOS, CSWS The detailed activity and personal data of over 50 million Facebook users were accessed and exploited without the consent of users by Cambridge Analytica in yet another text-book incident facilitated by an under-regulated, irresponsible, dragnet surveillance corporation, Facebook, whose sole-function has become the exploitation and monetization of .. read more

ICIT Brief: Dispelling the Fear of IT Modernization

IT modernization is confounded by shoestring budgets, system incompatibilities, and the inability to take critical systems offline for long enough to transition to more modern and secure technology. Despite all appearances, however, modernization is not actually governed by dollars and hardware. Cybersecurity modernization is a state of mind. It is a battle that CIOs and .. read more

National Security Officials Letter in Support of the Secure Elections Act

On February 20, 2018, twenty-one national security officials, including General Michael Hayden (Ret), The Honorable Rick Ledgett (Former Deputy Director, NSA), Mike Rogers (Former Chair, House Intelligence Committee), and James Scott (Sr. Fellow, ICIT),  sent a letter to Senators Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer to express their support for the Secure Elections Act (S. 2261), .. read more

William Evanina is the Counterintelligence Leader our Nation Needs

The digital threat landscape is wrought with nation-state advanced persistent threat groups, cyber-mercenaries, dragnet surveillance propagandists, insider threats, and numerous other dangerous adversaries intent on exfiltrating vital intelligence, disseminating poisonous disinformation, compromising vital systems, and disrupting critical operations. America’s critical infrastructure and national security assets are under constant assault. Qualified Information Security leaders are scarce .. read more

How To Protect Critical Infrastructure From Insider Threats

  By William R. Evanina [William R. Evanina is the Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center and the recipient of the 2017 ICIT Pinnacle Award.]   Silicon Valley is synonymous with innovation and technology. As anyone working in this space knows—particularly for start-ups with proprietary information—you have to be able to trust your .. read more

Hacking Cyborgs: By 2025, Non-Augmented Humans Will Be Obsolete. But There’s Bad News…

The human condition is plagued by a labyrinth of shortcomings, frailties, and limitations that hinder man from reaching his fullest potential. Therefore, it only makes sense that we find ourselves at the next phase in human evolution where restricted man merges with the infinite possibilities of hyper-evolving technologies. This techno-human transmutation will prove to be .. read more

ICIT Introduces: Center for Cyber-Influence Operations Studies (CCIOS)

“This is an advisory that studies the weaponized digital applications used by foreign nation-states for influence operations” – James Scott, Sr. Fellow ICIT & CCIOS The weaponization of digital vectors for a more expedient and potent manner of message delivery has become a pandemic as nation-states use technological means to streamline distribution of fake news, .. read more

ICIT Publication: I Got 99 Problems But a Breach Ain’t One

Critical Infrastructure Information Security systems are failing under persistent adversarial efforts because too many organizations still depend on antiquated legacy systems, un-cyber-hygienic personnel, and devices that lack security-by-design. This is not merely a cyberwar, we are now in a state of cyber-kinetic-meta war. There was no clear beginning and there will be no end. The .. read more

ICIT Brief: Metadata – The Most Potent Weapon in This Cyberwar: The New Cyber-Kinetic-Meta War

Metadata, or “data about data,” is collected and recorded to describe data, identify trends, administer algorithmic solutions, and model potential scenarios. When one understands how to make sense of seemingly random metadata or how to pair the data with other exfiltrated data pools, there are limitless possibilities for social engineering and cyber exploitation in attacks .. read more

ICIT Analysis: The Surveillance State & Censorship Legislation Conundrum: Dragnet Surveillance & Censorship Legislation Will Do Nothing to Eliminate Cyber Jihad & Lone Wolf Recruiting

Recent efforts by governments to weaken encryption, introduce exploitable vulnerabilities into applications, and to develop Nation-state dragnet surveillance programs will do little to stymie the rise in terrorist attacks.  These efforts will be a detriment to national security and only further exhaust law enforcement resources and obfuscate adversary communiqués within a massive cloud of noise. .. read more

Next Generation Defenses for a Hyper Evolving Threat Landscape: An Anthology of ICIT Fellow Essays Volume I

The onslaught of attacks on our Critical Infrastructure sectors by nation state, mercenary, criminal and cyber jihadist APTs is robbing organizations of millions worth of IP and victimizing citizens whose inadequately protect PII is being exfiltrated and used for economic gain or counterintelligence purposes. Organizations must be on the forefront of bleeding-edge cybersecurity technologies and .. read more

Recommendations for Preventing Ransomware Exploitation

By James Scott, Senior Fellow, Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology Ever since the WannaCryptor ransomware attack, also known as WannaCry or Wcrypt, began wreaking havoc around the globe, ICIT has received a flood of inquiries from policymakers, governments, and the private sector on how organizations can defend themselves.  ICIT is pleased to provide the following .. read more

ICIT Analysis:  Sowing the Seeds of U.S. Cyber Talent

K-12 students are the most prevalent and the most invaluable resource the U.S. can utilize in the development of a skilled and formidable cyber-workforce. As the United States grapples with a projected shortage of 1.5 million cybersecurity professionals by 2020, the “digital generation” provides a unique opportunity to address the cyber-talent shortage. In this analysis, .. read more

The Know Your Enemies 3.0 Advanced Persistent Threat Advisory is Finally Here!

We Connect the Dots between Nation State, Cyber Mercenary, Cyber Caliphate and Cyber Criminal Advanced Persistent Threats by James Scott, Sr. Fellow, ICIT Allegations of cyber-incidents, IP theft, and cyber-attack have significant tangible results and seismic geopolitical implications. Most compromised organizations do not detect breaches until eight months after the initial incident; consequently, typical attribution .. read more

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ICIT Brief: In 2017, The Insider Threat Epidemic Begins

Just as American and European critical infrastructure executives were beginning to wrap their minds around the devastation of the Office of Personnel Management breach, ransomware erupted onto the scene, followed by concentrated DDoS attacks such as the Mirai botnet attack on Dyn, which enabled a quantum leap for cyber criminals.  Now, all techno-forensic indicators suggest .. read more

ICIT Publication: Dragnet Surveillance Nation: How Data Brokers Sold Out America

With recent accusations of fake news and the weaponization of information as a mechanism of steering public perceptions dominating headlines around the world, have you ever considered the reality that private dragnet surveillance via social media properties, ISPs, search engines, health sector organizations etc., heavily contribute to the problems of adversarial intervention and streamlined distribution .. read more

The Cybersecurity Show Must Go On: Surpassing Security Theatre and Minimal Compliance Regulations

The United States Cybersecurity culture is heavily rooted in practices of Security Theater, where an organization that suffers a data breach can invest in countermeasures that provide a feeling or sense of security without actually improving the cybersecurity threat posture of the organization. In this publication, entitled “The Cybersecurity Show Must Go On:  Surpassing Security .. read more

“Fake News” Is “Old News” for Nation State and Mercenary APTs

By James Scott, Senior Fellow ICIT Regardless of your partisan persuasion, your opinion of mainstream media or your opinion of the ‘alt-right,’ one thing is for certain, ‘fake news’ is ‘old news’ when it comes to the weaponization of information by nation states and cyber mercenaries. Cyber adversaries tailor spear phishing and malvertising lures to .. read more

It’s the Russians! … or Is it? Cold War Rhetoric in the Digital Age

by James Scott, Sr. Fellow, ICIT Introduction Malicious actors can easily position their breach to be attributed to Russia.  It’s common knowledge among even script kiddies that all one needs to do is compromise a system geolocated in Russia (ideally in a government office) and use it as a beachhead for attack so that indicators .. read more

ICIT Publication – Rise of the Machines: The Dyn Attack Was Just a Practice Run

As the adversarial threat landscape continues to hyper-evolve, America’s treasure troves of public and private data, IP, and critical infrastructure continues to be pilfered, annihilated, and disrupted.  The Mirai IoT botnet has inspired a renaissance in adversarial interest in DDoS botnet innovation based on the lack of fundamental security-by-design in the Internet and in IoT .. read more

The Painfully Vulnerable Election System and Rampant Security Theater

by James Scott, Sr. Fellow, ICIT and Drew Spaniel, Fellow, ICIT ‘Clunky as Heck’ and Security via Obscurity Create Only an Illusion of Secure Elections “Election Officials, consider your voting machines, networks and tabulators infected until you’ve forensically proven otherwise.”  James Scott, Senior Fellow, ICIT The first step to correcting the plague of cyber-kinetic vulnerabilities .. read more

The Categorical Threat Landscape to Consider When Reading NASS’ Open Letter to Congress

Authored By: James Scott, Sr. Fellow, ICIT & Drew Spaniel, Researcher, ICIT On September 26, 2016, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) released an Open Letter to Congress that urged for the informed communication of facts about the security of election systems with the American public. This communique builds upon the NASS letter .. read more

ICIT Brief – China’s Espionage Dynasty: Economic Death by a Thousand Cuts

The criminal culture of theft that has been injected into virtually every line of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan is unprecedented. From state sponsored smash and grab hacking and techno-pilfering, to corporate espionage and targeted theft of IP, never before in recorded history has IP transfer occurred at such a rapid velocity. In this report, entitled .. read more

ICIT Report: CISO Solution Fatigue – Overcoming the Challenges of Cybersecurity Solution Overload

Due to the plague of APTs, malware, ransomware and other malicious initiatives by invisible adversaries, few C-level executive positions are as critical as the CISO. A well informed CISO can improve the engagement of the C-Suite and improve the cyber posture of the organization. However, due to a variety of factors, CISOs combat information overload and vendor .. read more

ICIT Analysis: The Wound Collectors – Profiling the Self Radicalized Lone-Wolf Terrorist

Acts of domestic terrorism in the West are escalating at an alarming rate. Lone wolf attacks and attackers have sparked public, political and law enforcement curiosity due to the, seemingly, random and independent action of a self-radicalized extremist with modest or no ties directly to the group in which they proclaim the action to be .. read more

American ISIS: Analysis of the Orlando Jihadist & Lone-wolf Attacks

ISIS lone wolves are being activated in towns and cities globally for the most potent cyber-physical combination of guerrilla attack ever to be introduced in modern warfare. This new enemy, fueled by extremist ideology, defies traditional profiling attributes such as race, sex, age, education, and nationality and can more easily evade detection by law enforcement. This .. read more

ICIT Brief – The Anatomy of Cyber-Jihad: Cyberspace is the New Great Equalizer

Until now it has been fairly easy to categorize malicious cyber-actors as State Sponsored APT, Hacktivist, Mercenary and Script Kiddie. However, a new threat actor has emerged who uses technological means to bring terror and chaos to our nation and its allies: the Cyber-Jihadist. Cyber-Jihad has quickly arrived on the scene and will only continue .. read more

ICIT Bulletin: America is Under Siege: Now is the Time for NASA to Unleash Gryphon-X

Despite maintaining one of the greatest treasure troves of intellectual capital on the planet, NASA, like virtually all federal agencies, is plagued by bureaucracy and competing interagency political agendas which creates a culture that stifles innovation. While adversaries run rampant in the critical infrastructures of our Nation, nextgen cybersecurity proposals aimed at protecting our networks, .. read more

The ICIT Ransomware Report: 2016 Will Be the Year Ransomware Holds America Hostage

Institute note: during our non-public soft distribution, we discovered that an incorrect, pre-edited version of this document was distributed. We have since corrected this error.  Our Ransomware Report is available for download below. 2016 is the year ransomware will wreak havoc on America’s critical infrastructure community. The resurgence of these attacks is driven by a growing attack surface .. read more