Tag Archives: Cyberespionage

The Past, Present, and Future of Cybersecurity

The cyber threat is the most pervasive and pernicious threat facing the United States today. Its mention does not immediately conjure visions of the catastrophic horrors that would result from an attack using a weapon of mass destruction, but today’s cyber threat is a very real and present danger. As of September 14, 2009, more than 10,450,000 U.S. residents had been victimized by identity theft in 2009 alone, and that number increases by one victim each second.2 Fifteen million victims will lose more than fifty billion dollars each year.3 Specific threats such as identity and consumer fraud allow us to quantify and understand part of the cyber threat in terms that allow the U.S. government,4 corporate America,5 consumer groups, and individuals6 to take preventive action. However, the growing number of victims would clearly suggest we have not effectively solved the problem, even if we are starting to comprehend its scope.

The cyber threat to U.S. national security, economic security, and public health and safety is far more amorphous and less susceptible of comprehension than its kinetic analogs. Popular media productions such as 247 and Live Free or Die Hard8 have depicted sophisticated cyber intrusions that intentionally caused aircraft collisions, a nuclear power plant meltdown, a compromise of White House security and communications…

Cybersecurity Strategy: A Primer for Policy Makers and Those on the Front Line

The Internet seems to offer the promise of everything to everyone. For global and local business, it lowers costs while increasing innovation, invention, effectiveness, and efficiencies. For wealthy and poor economies alike, the Internet greatly expands markets for products and services. For peoples free and repressed, it provides an inlet and an outlet of expression. For large and small communities, whether living in urban centers or outlying regions, the Internet enables control over critical power, transportation, water, and sewerage systems.

Lest we forget, for sophisticated criminals, terrorists, warmongers, and spies, the Internet also offers the chance of a lifetime to cheat, steal, and strike from afar with little money, covered tracks, and enormous real world impact. While the ability to use the same technology for positive or destructive ends is neither new nor momentous, it is necessary to consider whether the rapid adoption of the Internet has provided so considerable an asymmetric advantage to our adversaries that it can change the course of American history. In this regard, when we consider the intent and capabilities of our enemies, we cannot underestimate them or, as the 9/11 Commission found in a different context, suffer from failures in imagination, policy, capabilities, or management.

Thus our future remains uncertain. Based on our increasing reliance on networks to drive our economy and support our health, welfare, communications, and security, certain questions loom large. For example, can our enemies control whether, how, and when our systems operate and our vital services get delivered? Are our personal and business records, corporate intellectual property, and state secrets routinely exposed or imperceptibly altered?1

Unfortunately, the answers to these questions not only remain unknown, they perhaps are unknowable. Therefore, it is difficult to provide our nation’s government leaders, corporate executives, shareholders, and citizens with reasonable assurance that our computer systems have not been…

History Repeats Itself: The 60-Day Cyberspace Policy Review in Context

On February 9, 2009, President Obama gave his National Security and Homeland Security Advisors 60 days to conduct a Cyberspace Policy Review.1 The stated purpose of this “60-Day Review” was to provide a comprehensive assessment of U.S. policies for cybersecurity.2 According to a White House press release, the review would “develop a strategic framework to ensure that U.S. Government cyber security initiatives are appropriately integrated, resourced and coordinated with Congress and the private sector.”3

The 60-Day Review was an ambitious project and, in the end, took more than 60 days to complete.4 When the final report was issued on May 29, 2009, it offered a careful assessment of the current situation and a broad vision of what the United States must accomplish to secure our digital future. This vision, however, was not fundamentally different from previous iterations of cybersecurity strategy that the U.S. government has issued over the past 12 years.

The 60-Day Review undoubtedly represents a critical step toward addressing the many challenges the United States faces in working to secure its public and private information systems. However, it is important to place this document in proper context and understand what it accomplishes and what business it leaves unfinished. Before much progress can be made in improving cybersecurity, there are some tough policy decisions that have to be made.

The 60-Day Review does not take on many of those decisions. Rather, it provides an accurate and troubling picture of what the country is up against. It offers a glimpse of the daunting but important tasks of trying to harmonize the cybersecurity programs within government, establishing an effective partnership with the private sector, and developing strong relationships with other nations to combat cyber crime. It recommends…