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Analyzing the Cybersecurity Threat Posed By Hackers

Themis Papageorge

Themis Papageorge, associate clinical professor in Northeastern's College of Computer and Information Science, examines the cybersecurity threat posed by al-Qaida and Anonymous, a global group of hackers.

Credit: Mary Knox Merrill

In an interview, Northeastern University professor Themis Papa­george discusses the cybersecurity threat presented by rogue hacker groups such as Anonymous, and how the U.S. government can shield itself against future cyber sieges.

"Threat agents, such as Anony­mous group mem­bers, are moti­vated by many fac­tors, ranging from per­sonal gain to revenge, peer recog­ni­tion, curiosity, and crime; to polit­ical, reli­gious and sec­ular influ­ence; and poten­tially to ter­rorism and national mil­i­tary objec­tives," Papageorge says.

He believes the government needs to make a more effective effort to defend against hacker groups, both in terms of technical capabilities and context. There has to be consistent implementation of risk-based tech­nical coun­ter­mea­sures and con­trols for net­works and com­puter sys­tems, as well as poli­cies and user awareness, Papageorge notes.

"Since the attackers have the advan­tage of choosing the method and time of attack, fed­eral agen­cies could make risk-based deci­sions by defending against the most dam­aging attacks only by having access to a com­pre­hen­sive and cur­rent data set of attacks and methods," Papageorge says.

He recommends sharing attack and method data and scenarios across federal agencies and public organizations. "If al-Qaeda were to acquire the tech­nical capa­bil­i­ties of a hacker group such as Anony­mous, they would be a very cred­ible and high-risk cyber­ se­cu­rity threat," Papageorge warns.

From Northeastern University News 
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