According to the Internet Complaint Center of the FBI, cyberattacks are a big and growing business.
But foreign invasions of the U.S. cyberspace, especially Russian, are much more dangerous.
In 2021, American businesses lost $6.7 billion to cybercriminals using ransomware attacks, data, account and identity theft and cryptojacking. Companies responded by developing new cybersecurity policies, dedicated more money to protect their digital data, and hired more cybersecurity professionals. The demand for skills in this area is so high that there are 3.5 million jobs unfilled, according to Cybersecurity Ventures.
Giant companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon have the deep pockets and access to know-how to protect their cyberspaces, but the 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S., like most companies in New Mexico, are helpless because they are out-matched by the technology-savvy cybercriminals who can change their speed and operating methods overnight.
Even more critical is the damage of cyberattacks to the nation. Russia has already interfered in the U.S. presidential elections of 2016 and 2020 and attacked thousands of American companies and institutions, and it is bound to intensify its attacks on U.S. democracy and its commerce.
In view of this, there is an urgent need for the U.S. to pay more attention to its porous cyberborders with Russia and the world.
First, the U.S. must fully acknowledge that cyberwars are no less dangerous than the Cold War. In fact, they can be even more sinister because they are so quiet.
Second, it must mobilize its technological might — including help from the internet private industry and national labs like Sandia and Los Alamos — to stop future Russian offensives. Such an effort may already be in place, but it must be scaled way up and be given the urgency it deserves.
Third, the U.S. must mount a counterattack against Russia’s cyberwar infrastructure. Fourth, the U.S. must retaliate and interfere with the functioning of Russia’s society and its foreign policy — byte for a byte.
Finally, the U.S. should consider building a coalition with other countries — akin to NATO — which have been invaded digitally by Russia to stop its cyberoffensives.
To achieve all of this, the U.S. effort must be well-organized and led. Presently it is not. There are so many federal participants — for example, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigations — it is hard to know who is navigating the ship.
Without a strong, well-organized and action-backed response to the ongoing Russian invasion, Russia will win the new cold war in cyberspace and become more dominant on the world stage.
Avraham Shama is professor emeritus at the Anderson School of Management of the University of New Mexico. He is the author of “Cyberwars: David Knight Goes to Moscow,” which was recently published by 3rd Coast Books. The Executive’s Desk is a guest column providing advice, commentary or information about resources available to the business community in New Mexico. To submit a column for consideration, email email@example.com.