Nations investing in cyber, 'democratization' of malware are factors accelerating dangers online, CISA official says

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Oct 18, 2021 | CYBERSCOOP

Two trends are combining to amplify the threat that cyber poses to the U.S., according to a top Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency official: nation-states expanding their offensive capabilities, and the wider availability of easily-used hacking tools.

Brandon Wales, executive director of the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber wing CISA, said Monday that nations like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea “are investing significantly in tools to target our networks.”

A small number of ransomware gangs also are producing malware for wider use as part of their affiliate programs, Wales said at CyberWeek, a Scoop News Group event.

“We continue to see a democratization of malicious cyber capabilities,” he said. “Today, hacking tools can be purchased for use by any criminal, regardless of expertise, or even rented to provide as a service capability.”

Those separate phenomena are responsible for many of the most troubling developments in cyberspace over the past year. The U.S. has blamed Russian and Chinese state-backed hackers for the SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange Server hacks, respectively, that caused widespread intrusions. And ransomware attacks, mostly from gangs that the U.S. says Russia is harboring, have increased dramatically in 2020

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