April 24, 2012

Cyberwar--Threat Level Severe

This video is of an incredible opening statement by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Subcommittee Chairman on Oversight, Investigations, and Management on the topic--Cybersecurity Threats to the United States.

Some of the highlights from his statement:

- America's computers are under attack and every American is at risk.

- The attacks are real, stealthy, persistent, and can devastate our nation.

- Cyber attacks occur at the speed of light, are global, can come from anywhere, and can penetrate our traditional defenses.

- In the event of a major cyber attack, what could we expect? Department off Defense networks collapsing, oil refinery fires, lethal clouds of gas from chemical plants, the financial systems collapsing with no idea of who owns what, pipeliness of natural gas exploding, trains and subways derailed, a nationwide blackout. This is not science fiction scenarios. (Adapted from Richard Clark, former Senior Advisor of Cyber Security)

- It is not a matter of if, but when a Cyber Pearl Harbor will occur.  We have been fortunate [so far]. (Adapted from General Keith Alexander, Director of the NSA).

I believe we must address these threats and our vulnerabilities in at least five main ways:

1) Increase research and development for new tools and techniques--both defensive and offensive--for fighting cyberwar.

2) Establish a regulatory framework with meaningful incentives and disincentives to significantly tighten cybersecurity across our critical infrastructure.

3) Create a cybersecurity corps of highly trained and experienced personnel with expertise in both the strategic and operational aspects of cybersecurity.

4) Prepare nationwide contingency plans for the fallout of a cyberwar, if and when it should occur. 

5) Create a clear policy for preventing cyberattacks by taking preemptive action when their is a known threat as well as for responding with devastating force when attacks do occur. 

With cyberwar, just as in conventional war, there is no way to guarantee we will not be attacked, but we must prepare with the same commitment and zeal--because the consequences can be just, if not more, deadly.


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