While the spate of recent cyber attacks against Finland, Germany,Ukraine, and U.S. Central Command has governments worrying about how to combat cyberwarfare, Singapore just took a rare radical step towards doing so. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s office announced the creation of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, which “will provide dedicated and centralized oversight of national cyber security functions.” Given the sinister ways in which cyber threats are evolving, the move is a necessary step for a wired, wealthy nation that has long been the target of cyber crime.
Cyber attacks cost an estimated $400 billion in damages per year, but that number may soon soar thanks to what Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves called “the “little green men-ization of cyberspace,” at Davos last weekend, referring to the “little green men” who started showing up around Crimea in unmarked uniforms before Russia formally annexed the peninsula. “It’s not just criminals, it’s not just states, it’s also in between–the unique public/private partnership form that we see where states will pay criminal groups,” buying information about critical vulnerabilities, Ilves said. In the cyber marketplace, where loopholes called “zero-day vulnerabilities” are traded, organized crime, terrorist networks, and state actors are converging, making it increasingly difficult to tell the difference between them. And with the number of politically-motivated cyber attacks on the rise (2013 saw a 91% increase in target attacks) these new channels between states and criminal networks are a crucial aspect of cyber infrastructure.
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Here’s what the US could learn from Estonia about cybersecurity