- A lonely grandma sought family to spend Christmas with on Craigslist Saturday 5:45 PM
- Airbnb bans white supremacists tied to Iron March forum Saturday 5:07 PM
- Did a Twitter user really get tricked into naming baby ‘Jack Ingof’? Saturday 4:46 PM
- State of emergency declared in New Orleans following ‘cyberattack’ Saturday 4:12 PM
- Video shows boy getting beat up–mom says it’s because he wore MAGA hat Saturday 3:54 PM
- Billboard changing albums chart to count YouTube streams Saturday 2:43 PM
- TikTok’s 20 most popular songs of 2019 Saturday 2:14 PM
- Greek gods memes are flooding Reddit thanks to TV reboot rumors Saturday 1:47 PM
- Anti-impeachment protesters aimlessly fumble through halls of Congress Saturday 12:54 PM
- Everything we know so far about the Xbox Series X Saturday 12:17 PM
- ASMR YouTuber Life with MaK says she was branded a ‘Nazi’ by online smear campaign Saturday 10:46 AM
- Voters duped by fake ex-Bloomberg intern’s tweet about being fired Saturday 9:47 AM
- HBO’s ‘Watchmen’ and the fantasy of competence Saturday 8:00 AM
- Cómo ver Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington en el UFC 245 Saturday 7:00 AM
- ‘Penis fish’ memes erupt after worms wash up on California coast Friday 5:58 PM
Homeland Security says cyberattacks do less damage than press coverage of them
“Criminal hackers are politically or ideologically motivated and target for publicity.”
American intelligence agencies have long warned of a cyber Pearl Harbor. The threat of cyberattack looms so large in Washington D.C. that it has eclipsed terrorism as the greatest threat to the country according to a recent poll of defense and intelligence leaders.
However, when testifying in front of the House committees on cybersecurity and terrorism today, Homeland Security senior intelligence officer Glenn Lemons said his chief worry wasn’t so much about a cyberattack from terrorists or politically-motivated hackers like Anonymous but what happens afterwards: High profile press coverage and chatter around the world.
Terrorists “will continue to seek cybertargets of opportunity,” Lemons explained. “Therefore, despite the low probability of destructive terrorist cyberattack occurring, such an event may have a high profile impact even if unsuccessful. Success in this may be determined by press coverage [as opposed to] destructive network activity.”
Lemons, an officer in Homeland Security’s Cyber Intelligence Analysis Division, spoke at length about what he considers very real threats from nation states like China and criminal hackers but said even failed attacks can be deemed successful with the right public relations strategy.
“Criminal hackers are politically or ideologically motivated and target for publicity,” Lemons said, “which can result in high profile operations but often with limited effectiveness.”
#OpUsa, a 2013 hacking campaign organized by Anonymous and other groups against American banks and government agencies, did virtually no damage (it did take out a bakery’s website) but the attacks were covered extensively throughout online media.
“#OpUsa showed the group’s desire for media attention,” he said, “despite its lack of capability to disrupt websites of US government, financial, and commercial entities.”
Screengrab via C-SPAN
Patrick Howell O'Neill is a notable cybersecurity reporter whose work has focused on the dark net, national security, and law enforcement. A former senior writer at the Daily Dot, O'Neill joined CyberScoop in October 2016. I am a cybersecurity journalist at CyberScoop. I cover the security industry, national security and law enforcement.