Feb 28, 2021 - Technology

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

  • "Apps won't work. Appliances may not work. People don't even know all the things they depend on. All of a sudden, the supply chain starts getting disrupted because computers don't work."

Why he matters: As CEO of the company that was first to discover the massive SolarWinds hack, Mandia sits at the nexus of online security and attempts by criminals, mischief makers and foreign governments to break into computer systems around the world.

Mandia warns that unclear rules or criteria for retaliation will lead to continued attacks that leave us "shocked but not surprised."

  • "The problem is nobody knows what the rules are. There's no written document on what the rules are," he said.
  • "And I don't know if you will get people to agree to rules on espionage because of the asymmetry where most countries can't beat us with tanks, can't beat us with airplanes. But in cyber, maybe that's where they can make investments and beat us."

The bottom line: "It's as simple as if you can be hacked, you are hacked."

  • "We're in an environment right now where we're playing goalie and there are slap shots coming at us every millisecond. And, by the way, blocking 99.99999999% of all the attacks means you're gonna get compromised everywhere."
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