KUWAIT: If you don’t want to be hacked, then you should think like a hacker. This might sound a bit cliché, but according to Guillermo Christensen, an American cyber security expert, it is the way forward to survive in the era of cyber technology. He was speaking at a seminar entitled ‘State Cyber Hacking: Looking Backwards to Light the Path Forward,’ conducted at the American University of Kuwait (AUK) Wednesday evening. His visit to Kuwait is arranged through the US State Department’s Speakers Program.
“In the past when the nations of the world fought many battles to win peace; the famous cliché was that if you want peace, prepare for war. Today, we have a new motto; if you do not want to be hacked, think like a hacker,” Christensen said. “Our next battlefield will start from cyber security. Maybe by breaking security systems of the electricity grid of one nation. Or maybe, one country might attack another by hacking its energy systems, taking down all communications systems, etc.”
“In some countries of the world, they are using internet to spread propaganda,” he noted. “Their objective is to confuse people and to create discord among citizens. It is a very effective mechanism, and nowadays it is hard to tell where it comes from, what is the truth and not behind information we’ve got at hand from social media.”
Christensen went on to mention historical incidents that resemble modern-day cyber hacking and used in warfare. “Cyber security in 1914: In World War 1, there was a fleet in Canada waiting for the instructions to sail out in the ocean, its mission was to destroy the cable connection in the ocean in order to cut off electricity and power signals off Germans. They did that deliberately, and they were very successful in doing so,” he said. Christensen added that even telegraphs at that time were intercepted by a mathematician which also resulted to changing the course of war and history. They call that act ‘information warfare.’
“Hacking someone’s communication can create a huge impact and could change country’s history. We are exactly in the same ship right now, but this time, easier and much faster, the effect of that is there, but people would not even realize it. In the US 2016 elections, no one even realized that all these messages and emails were coming from the Russians, it took them times to realized it; and its changed history, whether they changed the result of elections or not we don’t know (yet),” he said.
On a separate interview, Christensen shared some facts of history so “that people will know and learn the lesson of the past.” “Hacking is everywhere. There are already large amounts of money involved in hacking; money are being lost because of cyber hacking, and it is happening everywhere,” he said. “We are discussing with Kuwait the need for the government and private sectors to work together and cooperate. It’s been a huge lesson we learned in the US and it took us 20 years to learn it well; and when we got it right, it made us possible for government and companies to respond to cyber threats and attack more quickly,” he noted.
During Secretary Mike Pompeo’s visit to Kuwait for the third US-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue in March 2019, both the US and Kuwaiti governments agreed on the need for close cooperation to prevent cyber threats. In September 2018, the US and Kuwait signed Letter of Intent on Cyber Security Cooperation.
By Ben Garcia