Cyber Security | Wilson Center

Cyber Security

The shocking mediocrity of Islamic State 'hacker' Junaid Hussain

Hiring tech talent is hard. Drawing talent to a warzone shadowed by drones is harder.

On Aug. 25, a US airstrike killed Junaid Hussain, a British national considered the Islamic State’s most capable hacker – though that may not have been a high bar to clear.

While The Wall Street Journal reported that jihadists called him their "secret weapon," J.M. Berger, author of "ISIS: The State of Terror," described him as "a Twitter noisemaker and a hack hacker." Many online labeled him a script kiddie – more plagiarist than innovator – and they probably got him right.

CIA Director’s Email Hacked

Following reports that CIA Director John Brennan’s email had been hacked, we asked Meg King to explain the implications.

Advice for Congress, the weakest link in cybersecurity

The fight between law enforcement and Silicon Valley over encrypted communications – what many called the second coming of the cryptowars – is mostly over. The feds "lost." Encryption advocates have the political and technical edge. Now that the rhetoric can cool, policymakers might realize they were playing a positive-sum game all along.

The Xi-Obama Meeting: Outcomes and Expectations

The meeting between President Xi and President Obama has come and gone leaving in its wake opinions on outcomes and expectations. Kissinger Institute Director Robert Daly helps us sort through the details and also provides thoughts on how China views the TPP agreement. That’s the focus of this edition of  Wilson Center NOW.



Briefing with Admiral Michael Rogers, Commander of U.S. Cyber Command

“Digital security was just emerging as an issue when I was first elected to Congress,” said Wilson Center Director, President and CEO Jane Harman. “Today, it’s a priority nationwide — for government, for private enterprise, and for all of us here at the Wilson Center.” In that spirit, Admiral Mike Rogers, Commander of U.S. Cyber Command and Director of the National Security Agency, came to the Center to lay out his vision for the nation’s warfighting arm in cyberspace.

America is losing the digital war against the Islamic State

Two weeks ago in Boston, authorities stopped a disturbed young man before he could launch a terror attack; tragically, last week in Chattanooga, the story ended very differently. Law enforcement officials are scrambling to learn whether clues were missed that could have prevented the rampage and led to the alleged shooter, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez. But in too many cases, the breadcrumb trail starts with suspicious ones and zeros — with digital propaganda that we still struggle to counter.

Terrorism in Cyberspace: The Next Generation

In a follow up to his previous book (Terror on the Internet), Gabriel Weimann’s newest work describes a growing and untamed cyberspace environment that is providing a natural and effective base of operations for the next generation of online terrorist. Are efforts to thwart those online efforts keeping pace with the level of threat? That’s the focus of this edition of Wilson Center NOW.

Confronting Terror-affiliated Hacktivists

The cyberthreat posed by terror groups today looks less like war than hacktivism—the use of online subversion or sabotage, often by loosely networked actors, to boost a political agenda. Within these opportunistic webs of affiliation, whether a hacker has an operational link to a terrorist organization is largely irrelevant. Any sympathizer can use digital tools to deface websites for propaganda value, encourage acts of violence, or cause economic disruption. In response, firms and governments can do more to improve defenses, educate users, and monitor hacktivist capabilities.

Beyond Google: The Dark Side of the Internet

Most people assume that a Google search can identify most of the information available on a given subject. But beyond the capabilities of Google or any other search engine, there is another online world. In fact, the number of non-indexed internet sites is estimated to be 500 times larger than what a search engine can reveal. And where the sun doesn’t shine, there exists a dark side of the Internet that is a conduit for all types of illegal and often dangerous activity.

The Estonia Model: A Conversation With President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on a Free and Secure Internet

The Republic of Estonia built a new government from the ground up, resulting in the world's most comprehensive and efficient “e-government.” Citizens are empowered by a free nationwide Wi-Fi network and a school program that boosts tech competence at every age level. But being an early adopter also has its risks. In 2007, Estonia was one of the first victims of a large-scale cyberattack that mostly targeted government websites and financial services. The attack provided the country's security experts with valuable experience and information in dealing with such incidents.