All great history has drama. It is forged by leaders leading groups through challenges. The greats never give up. No where is this better demonstrated than in the persistence of Hannibal, whose invasion of Rome required him to pass two impassable mountain ranges. And he had to cross them with massive armies and their supplies, and on top of that he intended on bringing his horses and even war elephants. When advised that he could not do that he counseled his generals:
I will either find a way or make one.
The result of his persistence: He was the only invading force to shake the Roman Empire at its core. His invasion did the impossible. And history now treats Hannibal as one of the greatest strategists that has ever lived.
Lesson for today’s cyber warrior: This same persistent attitude is held by the attackers hitting you and your organization today. If your adversary is a well resourced and organized one they will never give up. They will keep attacking till you are surprised. Another big lesson: Prepare for that surprise. If an adversary makes it into your network, don’t fail like Rome when Hannabal invaded. Have a plan to observe and counter attack. And by all means, make sure you are just as persistent as Hannibal was. And, keep yourself educated and aware!
By the way, although I had certainly known of Hannibal and his history, the first I was ever exposed to his lessons in a cyberwar context was during my time at the Department of Defense’s cyber security organization, the Joint Task Force for Computer Network Defense (JTF-CND). I was the J2 there from 1998 till 2002. We were frequently pulled into meetings coordinated by the White House including many led by Richard Clarke. I recall one particular meeting when Clarke was seeking inputs on what could be done about a widespread series of hacks against U.S. e-commerce sites. Due to the complexity of the situation and ambiguous authorities at the time, plus the fact that so much of cyber conflict was very early back then, one of the people on a VTC with Clarke told him what he was asking could not be done. There is no way. Clarke responded: “Like Hannibal, we will find a way or make a way.” Then over the next few days Clarke did just that. Coordination was done across industry and action oriented sessions were set up that saw major ecommerce companies sending security professionals to the White House for direct collaboration. We made a way! The persistence of Hannible definitely applies to defenders as well as attackers.
Cyberwar is a state of conflict. It is related to the technological environment and to cybersecurity, but cyber conflict comprehends those and many other topics into a greater national security construct. Today our nation faces constant adversary action and conflict in cyberspace. Meeting the challenges this adversary action causes requires an understanding of what people and companies and governments can proactively do to bring the fight to adversaries. It also involves deep understanding of adversary tactics and capabilities so we can really understand The Cyber Threat.
The CTOvision Cyberwar and Cybersecurity weekly report captures lessons learned from our close observation of adversary activity and insights from the best defensive measures being applied in organizations today. We also provide information on the technologies of defense in ways you can leverage to your benefit.
For an online portal into previous reporting on the topic see the CTOvision Cyberwar Site.
Latest posts by Bob Gourley
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