Creating a Culture of Fear: What to Look Out For

Cyber attacks against America’s critical infrastructure increased five times in 2011 over 2010 numbers. What does this mean going forward in the war against cyber crime? With the private sector resistant to government officials mandating the steps a company must take to provide effective cybersecurity, will companies do what is necessary to protect vital company and client data? According to, many companies see cybersecurity as an increased cost with no significant payback.

Various cybersecurity bills being pushed through the Senate and House of Representatives also have privacy implications, according to civil liberties groups. For opposite reasons, the intelligence community is less concerned with privacy and more worried about governing cyberspace.

The real enemy in all this is not the government, but those who make all these measures a necessity — hackers such as Anonymous, who actively seek to cripple the online capabilities of those groups and organizations it believes have an agenda counter to its views. No more than cyber bullies, activities of hackers represent a real threat to the ability of companies to do business safely and securely. However, some argue that groups such as Anonymous are necessary to keep in check government interference and those companies who support that interference. But what about countries like China and Russia, which also are said to pose as giant threats in an ever-evolving cyber environment. And we can’t forget groups that infiltrate companies and steal the private data of customers, such as what happened to Sony and its PlayStation Network.

That is the real challenge: protecting the privacy of individuals while at the same time developing defenses to protect the networks and infrastructure at private companies, especially those in the crucial U.S. energy sector. It seems there will have to be some kind of tradeoff between the two: privacy and security. The real question is, how much?

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