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Growing connectivity brings more threats: Cyber expert

Chris Krebs

As the world becomes increasingly connected, people will face a growing host of threats from a range of sources, Chris Krebs, former director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said Tuesday at the ITC InsureTech Connect Conference in Las Vegas.

“We will only become more digitized,” Mr. Krebs, a founding partner at Krebs Stamos Group LLC, told a packed audience at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. “The problem is the bad guys know that.”

He asked his listeners to imagine themselves five years into the future. “Think about your house, the office, your car. The ecosystem is accelerating. In that five-year period, we will only plug more things in,” he said.

During that period, connectivity will increase, “but so will threat actors — state actors, criminals and everyone in between,” he said.

Virtually every country has developed or is developing a cyber capability, Mr. Krebs said. “Every single country plugged into the internet is investing,” he said.

Of those considered the most active, China is motivated by economic and political gain, while Russia is more of a disruptor, he said. North Korea aims to bolster its finances, and Iran is more of a regional actor that has played on a global scale, he said.

In addition to the state players, there are cybercriminals. “Ransomware actors, in particular, have exploded on the stage,” Mr. Krebs said. “That is one of the primary national security threats to the functioning of our economy today.”

Ransomware actors, Mr. Krebs, explained automate their activities and scan online for vulnerabilities. “If you’re doing business in the technology sector, you’re on the playing field for these guys,” he said.