LAS VEGAS. Ambassador Cofer Black worked for the CIA for 28 years and was a part of U.S. intelligence establishment in the 9/11 era.
Black took the stage at the Black Hat USA security conference today in a keynote about lessons learned from 9/11. In Black’s view there are similarities to the pre 9/11 world and the current emerging world of cyberattacks.
Black told the audience that in August of 2001 he warned the U.S. administration about a major attack. In September the attack came.
Black noted that it took the new Republican administration time to realize the threat as they were transfering from the Democrats.
“The transference in 2001 was not fixated on the terrorist threat, ” Black said. “There was an increasing volume of intelligence that came in the summer of 2001 that was shocking and haunting.”
In Black’s view, when there is a delay to threat validation there is a problem. He noted that when the attack came it was a strange validation that what the CIA had been anticipating had indeed taken place.
“In the tech world you may face similiar issues in the future,” Black said.
There is an analogy to the technical world and the situation may even be more challenging, according to Black.
“Now it’s your turn, as the issues you’re involved in with attack and defense are important among decision makers,” Black said.
He noted that for threat modelling, the issues that we face in the future will be kinetic, bacteriological and cyber.
“I’m here to tell you, the Stuxnet attack is the Rubicon of our future,” Black said. “I don’t understand how it was executed, but a nation state was likely involved and your world, in which people just thought it was college pranks of hacks, has morphed into physical destruction of a national resource.”
“This is huge.”
Black added that the Department of Defense has said that an attack that has physical impact can warrant kinetic intervention. That is, the U.S could potentially bomb them.
“We’ve had the Cold [War] and now it’s the code war,” Black said. “Cyber will be a key component of any future conflict whether it’s with a nation state or terriorist states.”