Ken Silva, VeriSign’s Chief Security Officer, and Chairman of the Internet Security Alliance Board of Directors highlighted the increased threat from cyber attacks to the economy and national security in testimony today before the House Committee on Government Reform.
“Today’s attacks can cause damage a hundred times more extensive than the attacks of just a year ago.” An Internet failure lasting a few hours would trigger hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and could compromise government services,” Silva said.
Silva cited several reasons for the increased threat including the explosion in Internet related services, the increasing sophistication of the attackers and the tremendous financial profits that can be generated through cyber crime.
Silva said catastrophic failures could be due either to a failure to expand the Internet to keep up with demand or if we fail to adequately protect ourselves from the increasingly sophisticated attackers.
“The Internet continues to grow at dramatic rates which mean the infrastructure must scale to meet that demand…to put that in perspective, although Moore’s law states that computing power doubles every 18 months, VeriSign has chosen to increase our capacity at 600 times that rate,” Silva said.
In addition to continued investment in technology Silva also noted the need to carefully align business and technical issues to prevent against “well meaning, self inflicted wounds.” As an Example Silva cited the current development of Internationalized Domain names (IDNs) which will use characters in local languages such as Mandarin. “Implementing IDNs in a secure manner requires resolving a host of technical and business issues. If we don’t handle this correctly we could inadvertently create opportunities for oppressive regimes,” Silva said.