Time for America to Get Cyber-Serious

As the cybersecurity battles rage on, government and private information networks must be ever-vigilant against potential attack. According to a recent www.heritage.org article by Paul Rosenzweig and James Carafano, the Department of Defense (DOD) alone has 3.5 million computers and 35 internal networks in 65 countries. And many of these networks depend on commercial systems.

Every day, the DOD records attacks against systems and networks perpetrated by hackers, foreign-sponsored entities, employees, former employees, and contractors or other service providers. An emerging, and disturbing, concern involves U.S. enemies creating a catastrophic failure in Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems that monitor and control U.S. infrastructure. These attacks could cause fuel spills, power outages, and even explosions.

“Treating national security cyber competition as just a ‘computer problem’ is a mistake,” according to Rosenzweig and Carafano. “For every firewall or virus protection fielded, malicious actors will invent new ways to circumvent them. The U.S. needs to be prepared to deal with all aspects of the pursuit of cyber actors, including legal, financial, diplomatic, propaganda, covert operations, and other means of finding the enemy’s weakest link and exploiting it.”

The effort to make America a solid cyber competitor rests on three pillars:

1. Strong allies: According to Rosenzweig and Carafano, the U.S. should work with like-minded nations to combat bad actors in cyberspace.

2. Strong cyber leaders: Leaders in government and the private sector must develop adequate cybersecurity leadership.

3. Strong cyber citizens: Individuals who fall victim to “social engineering” ploys used to steal passwords or inject viruses into computer networks must remain informed.

For more information about business and government cybersecurity vulnerabilities, visit:http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/05/time-for-america-to-get-cyber-serious