The Cyber5 Podcast

Thinking about Cybersecurity Challenges in the Geopolitical and World Economic Context

Episode 53 | August 25, 2021

In episode 53 of The Cyber5, we are joined by Ciaran Martin, the former United Kingdom National Cybersecurity Center CEO and former Director General for Cybersecurity of GCHQ. He’s currently a professor at the University of Oxford and a strategic advisor for Paladin Capital.

We discuss the political, legal, and ethical challenges of today’s ransomware threats and the corresponding nation state challenges of Russia, China, and Iran. We also discuss what the U.S. and global economies can do to reduce these threats and how the financial industry can assist in a greater capacity.



Here are the 4 Topics We Cover in This Episode:

1) Ransomware’s Social Impact Escalates to National Security Priority:

With semi-conductor shortages caused by the pandemic and corresponding geopolitical rifts between the U.S., Russia, and China, ransomware is at the center of national security threats While ransomware actors are just organized criminals, three characteristics have made this a broader national security threat:

  1. Russia and surrounding states allow criminality to flourish.
  2. Cybersecurity problems exist in western economies due to vulnerabilities caused by poor security practices within development lifecycles.
  3. Ransomware business models position criminals for success. Executives don’t understand cybersecurity and immediate business impact motivates them to pay ransom.

2) China Wants Authoritarian Control over Technology; Russia Wants a New Cold War: 

The U.S. and Western model of technology has created flaws that lead to ransomware. The “move fast and break things” mantra of Silicon Valley prioritizes connectivity over security. The Chinese model is one of consistent integration, overwatch, authority, and frugality. Russia seeks regional control and the overall weakening of democracies through disinformation and offensive computer network exploitation operations..

3) Commonalities and Differences of Combating Ransomware Actors and Other Non-State Actors: 

Key Differences:

Ransomware actors are not yet causing widespread harm to individuals. If this starts to occur, we could see increased offensive campaigns against ransomware actors similar to what we’ve seen against other non-state actors.

Non-state actors of the last 15 years were usually under a failed state whereas ransomware actors enjoy state protection in many cases.

Key Commonalities:

The world economies will eventually join to stop the movement of money that is used by ransomware actors, repeating what happened to the non-state actors of the last 15 years.

4) The Financial Sector Must Step Up to Stop Ransomware: 

Cybersecurity risk is well understood by the major financial sectors as it pertains to their own security. Cybersecurity, fraud, insider theft, and general resilience are well understood and defended by the major banks. Aspects of cryptocurrency and money laundering aspects of cyber security are still major opportunities for the FIs.

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