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  • Writer's pictureRache Brand

Clear and Present Danger: Cyber Threats are Evolving

Updated: Sep 15

The United States government is sounding alarm bells on the potential destruction of American infrastructure. The emergency signals are not for rusty bridges or tire-popping potholes. These warnings are for something silent and more insidious. America's vulnerabilities are exposed in codes and wires. Cyber assaults from foreign and domestic adversaries are escalating. Attacks with similar goals: disrupt and interrupt the American way of life. Two recent incidents spotlight America's exposure; however, a new cyber security vanguard illuminates the path forward. A company called Pareto Cyber holds the torch.

Malicious Code Sleeps in America's Infrastructure

On July 29th, 2023, the New York Times reported that US agencies are fervently searching for malicious codes believed to be embedded by foreign hackers in critical infrastructure networks. The networks control power grids, communication systems, and water supplies for US military bases across the United States. The revelation paints a grim picture: hackers potentially possess a "ticking time bomb" that could halt or impede US military operations.


The breach is expansive. Military and civilian infrastructures are intertwined. If the malicious code is activated, the houses and businesses of average Americans could be impacted. Seemingly, a hacker's keystroke could instigate a nationwide panic.


US agencies are scrambling to comprehend the potential devastation and magnitude. Emergency "situation room" style meetings are being held to create the proper countermeasures to repair the cyber infiltration. At this point, the world's greatest defense network was caught off-guard.


The current hacker operation differs from prior cyber skirmishes. This new wave of malware is more aggressive. This malware doesn't just observe; it creates system blackouts. The discovery of this code indicates an evolution in the digital security ecosystem. The modern battleground is fought with ones and zeroes.


Right now, the US is waiting to see if the sleeping malware might be called to duty. The consequences are not fully realized, but this was not the case with the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack. In 2019, the United States experienced the very real consequences of a sophisticated cyber attack, and the American people felt it.

The Colonial Pipeline Shutdown

On a festive Mother's Day weekend in Norfolk, Virginia, the Colonial Pipeline Company was silently taken over. A hacker group known as "DarkSide" launched a ransomware affront on the Colonial's IT systems. Using a combination of "spear-phishing" techniques, malicious software, and possible insider information, they bypassed flimsy layers of cybersecurity defenses.


Ransomware works by encrypting files and locking out users until a ransom is paid. In the case of the Colonial Pipeline, hackers targeted vital operational and financial data. They took control of the company's primary functions and held it hostage.

The Colonial Pipeline is a major artery of the US fuel infrastructure and is responsible for supplying approximately 45% of the East Coast with fuel. Stretching 5,500 miles from Texas to New Jersey, the pipeline shutdown was like turning off a life-support machine for part of the nation's beating heart.

Gas stations watched their gas reserves dwindle. Days passed, and tanks ran empty. There was a run on gasoline. Queues of anxious drivers grew longer, and the prices at the pump soared. This wasn't only about inconvenience; the sudden gasoline supply shock threatened the economy and even the lives of vulnerable citizens.


How Can These Attacks Happen?

US cyber security desperately needs an upgrade. Outdated legacy systems, high upgrade costs, and uneven resources leave the nation exposed. Murky supply chains and muddled inter-agency communication worsen the scene. Lax rules and unpredictable human behavior create a fertile ground for hackers to take root.


The Colonial Pipeline debacle spotlighted the US infrastructure's brittleness. Although tagged "critical" by Homeland Security, many sectors, including 80% of the energy domain, are vulnerable. Colonial's 2018 audit exposed a system that some said could be hacked by an eighth grader. This isn't a Colonial-only flaw; vital infrastructures from dams to plants share the risk.

The Cataclysmic Impact of Infrastructure Loss

When the Colonial Pipeline stuttered to a halt, communities felt the recoil. The company paid the hackers their $4.4 Million ransom demands, and the pipeline slowly started flowing again. The 2019 hack was a startling wake-up call to the potential devastation the US could face if cyber security is not prioritized and reinforced.


Imagine other critical infrastructures going down. Picture power grids faltering: cities darkening, transport halting, public safety teetering. What if hackers breach our medical shields? Hospitals may stall, treatments pause, and lives hang in the balance. What happens if hackers hit our food chain? Possible food shortages, skyrocketing prices, and survival at stake.


It all begs the question: Are we prepared for the next one? The quick answer is not yet. But the solution lies in becoming proactive. For that, we can look to an innovative company called Pareto Cyber.

Strengthening the Shield: A Proactive Approach to Cybersecurity

The US government is calling on cyber security firms to advance their defense strategies to emphasize foresight and readiness. The call is clear: Cybersecurity defense is about anticipating the strike.

Pareto Cyber is setting a new standard for this proactive-style defense. They emphasize a human-centered approach that combines intuition with advanced technology. Here is what they preach:


Threat Monitoring forms the first line of defense – like the early-warning system used for a hurricane. It is essential to spot dangers, identify the core intent, and fortify against risks before they explode into a crisis.

A Managed Detection and Response (MDR) system refines this approach. Infrastructure is vast and varied, and MDR combines automation technology with human insight to ensure that any malicious activity is swiftly identified, understood, and neutralized.


Foundational principles of Cyber Hygiene and Compliance are also imperative. Cultivating a security awareness and routine maintenance culture can make all the difference. Even in a world of advanced threats, sometimes it's the basics that keep companies safe.


These tactics scratch the surface of Pareto Cyber's repertoire. To truly grasp their impact, dive into their specific role in fortifying America's food supply infrastructure.

Pareto Cyber's Food Protection Plan

Pareto Cyber's defense strategy stands on three keystones: evaluate, establish, and educate. They don't just plug tech holes; they sculpt a company's culture, embedding security in its DNA, ensuring everyone from boardroom to breakroom is a frontline defender.


Pareto knows that as businesses evolve, so do their threats. That's why they champion ongoing evaluations and recalibrations. Effective cybersecurity isn't a one-time fix; it's a culture of anticipation, diligence, and empowerment, turning every employee into a watchful sentinel.


Pareto's partnership with Ardent Mills, the US's top flour supplier, embodies a proactive stance on securing America's food supply. Together, they're protecting vital supply chains, guaranteeing that grocery stores, bakeries, and food producers continue receiving the essential flour they need to nourish the nation.

Ardent Mills' decision to collaborate with Pareto Cyber showcases why companies, especially those integral to the nation's infrastructure, must prioritize cybersecurity.


Pareto came in and did a thorough risk analysis of our company, team, and current IT processes. Being able to tie business value vs. risk mitigation to the right side of our security posture has been a game changer for us.
~ Chris Meyerpeter, Chief Information Officer, Ardent Mills

Ardent Mills is one example of Pareto Cyber's diverse client portfolio, highlighting their expertise across various sectors.


With their proactive and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, it's critical for companies like Pareto Cyber to flourish in these times. Recognizing the company's potential and shared progressive values, Star Strong Capital made a strategic investment, further bolstering Pareto Cyber's mission.

Star Strong Capital's Commitment to a Fortified Economy

Star Strong Capital chose to back Pareto Cyber because they share a collective vision. Their alliance underscores a mutual dedication to bolstering the American economy and safeguarding its citizens. In Pareto Cyber, Star Strong sees an embodiment of its investment ethos: beyond profitability, it's about societal well-being.


In a digital age riddled with evolving cyber threats, the alliance of Star Strong and Pareto Cyber is emblematic of the collaborative spirit required to navigate these turbulent waters. Star Strong Capital and Pareto Cyber exemplify the leadership we need, taking a proactive and forward-thinking approach to both cybersecurity and investment. Their collaboration doesn't just protect client interests but paves the way for a resilient future. In their union, we see the blueprint for navigating the intricate digital challenges ahead.

Sources:

NY Times Article

New Yorker Article

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