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Cyber Threat!: How to Manage the Growing Risk of Cyber Attacks by MacDonnell Ulsch

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IntroductionWhat Every Current and Future Senior Executive Must Know about the Cyber ThreatA Perfect Digital Storm Is Forming

A “perfect storm” has been described as a combination of circumstances that aggravate or intensify a situation. The 1997 book The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger, describes the events of a perfect meteorological storm formed in the fall of 1991. The swordfishing boat Andrea Gail, sailing out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, was lost 575 miles off the New England coast to one of the worst storms in maritime history. I often think about that storm when considering the cyber threat.

We are, arguably, experiencing a set of circumstances that significantly intensify the impact of the cyber attacks that occur all the time. Let me be clear. I am not forecasting one such perfect storm, resulting in a catastrophic digital Pearl Harbor strike against the United States that disables critical infrastructure, from the distribution of electricity to the movement of money across the financial system. Of course, that could happen. But I am talking about enterprises large and small, commercial and governmental, that operate continuously under a range of perfect storm-like conditions. These cyber attacks have a telling and sometimes material impact on the organization.

But which organizations? In the February 5, 2013, edition of the Wall Street Journal, the editorial writers remarked that “On a visit to our offices last year, a U.S. lawmaker with knowledge of intelligence ...

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