As a former military planner, a portion of what I did involved "War Gaming" - future "What If" scenarios.
We would often table top these War Games and come up with countermeasures as part of a plan to combat future potential threat scenarios. Often this required quite a bit of brain storming and thinking outside the box in many cases.
There were no bad ideas so as to foster an environment where everyone contributed and felt valued. Many times the best ideas often came from the quietest in the room. In the Pentagon and numerous military bases around the world there are shelves and shelves of these "What If" scenarios that sit waiting for the day they may be needed. Fortunately, most are not…however when they are they become a how to manual for execution in response to these threats.
The reason I am writing this article is to serve as a warning for our nations population about what I see is a huge threat and a potential Achilles heel in our defense systems. The military mechanism of our country is most likely aware of these threats but has done little to combat it as it falls outside the purview of its control domestically. This threat relies on our elected officials to do the right thing and would fall under the auspices of our Dept. of Homeland Security.
The Threat I want to highlight and that has reared its ugly head has become the #1 Crime according the Federal Trade Commission for over 16 years in a row now. It is "Identity Theft". Identity Theft has over 40,000 victims a day plus has surpassed over 1.5 Trillion dollars a year in lost and stolen funds! Here in Florida where I live, we actually lead the nation with regard to this crime; something not really to be proud of, but again, one our elected officials seem to be doing very little to stop. It is election season after all…
HOW IDENTITY THEFT CAN BE WEAPONIZED
So now you may have a basic idea of how Identity Theft can damage a family or business, but how can it destroy a community? Here's how… Let's say you have a rogue state, any state for that matter, and they decide they want to cripple our economy by launching a Cyber Warfare campaign. We already know how Cyber Warfare can be used take down infrastructure like our Power Grids, Communications, and Air Traffic Control but how can it be used to destroy a community?
Well most likely this would have started many years before when they would have started collecting as much Personal Identifiable Information on everyone as they can within the U.S. This PII stolen data would come from many sources, like Equifax, the IRS, Banks and Financial Institutions, Hospitals and numerous other databases stuff you read about every week in the news.
Because people don't change their Social Security numbers, or move and change jobs too often much of this information would remain relevant. This information could then be used to "Flood the Zone", say around a strategic military base by targeting zip codes in communities around that base. The enemy would then initiate hundreds of thousands of fraudulent transactions wiping out peoples bank accounts, maxing out their credit cards, opening bogus loans, and basically creating a financial meltdown on the community surrounding that base or facility.
This whole scenario that was just played out before you now becomes part of the enemies "Psychological Warfare" campaign in that most Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines families who have been affected in this attack have now become marginalized. After all who can possibly concentrate on a serious task like going to war if your family has just been made destitute? This is a term HR professional refer to as Presenteeism one in which your body may be here but your mind is elsewhere; a dangerous place to be if you have to defend this country!
About the author - Chris Kirkland is a retired Air Force Process Plans Officer and LEAN 6 Black Belt and now Consultant on Cyber Crime in the Tampa Florida area.