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Mace & Crown | April 30, 2017

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The Rise of the Cyber Arms Race

The Rise of the Cyber Arms Race

Audra Reigle | Assistant Technology Editor

Every day, we are putting our personal information out on the internet. We’re sharing our selfies on Facebook and Instagram, we’re tweeting about our days and we’re using the internet to buy what we want without having to go to the store. When we do that, we’re making ourselves vulnerable to hackers all over the world. In the fight against cybercrime, an arms race has started in the virtual world.

The cyber arms race evolves every day. In the past, we would be safe with just anti-virus software and firewalls, according to Gadget. Now we’re in the age of Distributed Denial-of-Service, or DDoS, attacks to bring down whole websites. Tomorrow could very well bring a whole new threat in the arms race as hackers and cyber security experts work to create the next new “weapon” and defense against it.

The cyber arms race is effective, affordable and deniable, Mikko Hypponen told Business Insider. Hypponen says it is possible that we could spend the next 60 years in a cyber arms race. Top contenders of the cyber arms race are the U.S., Israel, Russia and China, with Korea and Iran beginning to make their way onto the front.

In 2016, former President Barack Obama said “the United States has ‘more capacity than anybody, both offensively and defensively’ when it comes to cyber weapons,” according to Politico. Obama did not want to start a digital arms race, but he did want to see rules put in place to ensure responsibility in everyone’s actions.

The 2016 election was no stranger to the cyber war because of “attacks that exposed the inner workings of the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” according to The New Yorker. The fight continued even into this month as “WikiLeaks released an archive of cyber tools stolen from the CIA.”

Buzzfeed reported Ukrainians faced a power outage in December as a result of an “external attack,” according to a Facebook post by Vsevolod Kovalchuk, head of Ukrenergo, a Ukrainian power operator. The 30-minute attack was one of many of Russia’s “efforts to push the boundaries of modern-day warfare.”

Late last year, Investors reported that some security companies, such as FireEye and Palo Alto Networks, could see an increase in stocks as a result of this race for better weapons and defenses in the cyber world. For companies like FireEye and Palo Alto Networks, their closing amounts were $12.98 and $126.32 respectively on Dec. 20, 2016, according to the New York Stock Exchange. On Mar. 20, 2017, FireEye closed at $11.61 and Palo Alto Networks closed at $114.87. Other companies, like Proofpoint and CyberArk Software, closed at $71.56 and $46.90, respectively, on Dec. 20, 2016. On March 20, 2017, Proofpoint closed at $80.85 and CyberArk Software closed at $50.80. While some companies have seen an increase in stock since the end of 2016, it doesn’t seem like the cyber arms race is really affecting the stock market too much.

Because technology is constantly evolving, it is hard to tell what could come next in this cyber arms race. It is possible that we could be in this race for the next 60 years, as Mikko Hypponen predicted, as technology evolves and hackers and cyber security experts pick up new techniques, all we can do is ensure that we are protecting ourselves and being cautious about what we do online. You never know when a hacker can strike and get your personal information.