Cyber Security of the US Infrastructure
Cyber-attacks may not seem tangible in the digital world, but they can cause real damage. Technology and the internet join all countries together with the potential to be an asset or a weapon. A cyber-attack can reach a global level easily with a low-risk and the ability to cause damage on a high scale. Any nation that wants to cause damage to the United States in a quick and efficient way would use hacking If infrastructure is hacked it can cause physical issues such as black outs, and the stop of operations, not allowing people to have access to their money, or shutting down power grids so that hospitals are unprepared for the lack of power, and even the failure of military equipment. There is also the issue of stealing information from public and private companies such as intellectual property and unpatented information, or the theft of national secrets to sell them or leak them, as well as personal information that is valuable and sensitive. They can disrupt communication networks or paralyze systems. That is why the most immediate threat to the U.S. during the next ten to fifteen years is cyber-attacks on infrastructure, unless we find a way to protect its foundation.
The infrastructure of the U.S. can easily become compromised by a hacker in any part of the world. Many jobs, companies and people depend on the organization and disposition of the framework of the U.S. and its institutions and expect them to be reliable. If a fraction of infrastructure is compromised, it can mean disarray on a wide scale, for example Frank Cilluffo, the Director of the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security stated, “critical infrastructure such as U.S. banks and the energy sector (oil and gas) are primary targets for cyber-attacks and cybercrimes… (they) hold the potential to undermine trust and confidence in the system itself” (Cilluffo 3). These essential institutions are key factors for the advancement of the U.S. economy and so their cybersecurity is far more susceptible to an attack. Any nation state that wishes to damage the U.S. from the inside out can do so by damaging the economy it relies on, and from any location. The cybersecurity of infrastructure could be an improbable threat because there are concerns to U.S. national security that seem more immediate. For example terrorism is unpredictable and causes more cassualties at the moment. Most cyber attacks could be preventable if proper cyber security were implemented and there have not been any catastrophic deaths from a cyber attack. It is also difficult to negotiate with terrorists where as most advaned nation states with cyber capabilities can be dissuaded from using the information they have against the U.S.
The reason I believe this to be the most important threat is because it is one of the biggest liabilities for the United States. Other countries do not compare to the military or economic level of the U.S. but they can infiltrate our systems through network hacking and affect the advantage that the nation holds over the rest of the world. It will also be a big problem to deal with because there are so many large corporations and industries that are connected to power grids and networks and they do not have the appropriate cyber security upgrades to keep up with the advanced technology that they use. Although terrorism causes casualties there are many instances where cyber attacks have lead to deaths and if not taken care of can reach catastrophic rates. Terrorist are likely to use cyber attacks as a means to cause a physical attack, making the threat of cyber attack all the more likely. Technology affects the daily lives of Americans and if it is compromised it can have significant affects on the U.S. economy, public health, and safety, so cyber threats have the capability to affect the functioning of life as we know it, not just because of the physical attacks but also due to the informational attacks. The problem alone is widespread but it is also hard to deal with because they can come from anywhere in the world, making the attack difficult to deter.
Cyberattacks are hard to prevent since they can be launched from anywhere in the world. Intelligence agencies can collect information on the nation states and private companies with the most motive to attack and highest cyber hacking abilities, such as their ability to infiltrate our network and figure out what kind of resources and tactics they are using so that we can be put into a position to retaliate with a physical attack if necessary. Intelligence agencies should also focus on the information security of all major infrastructures that are determined to be important for public safety, health, or a corporation that has an economic significance for the U.S. The information security in this case would be digital and includes cybersecurity and, network security which is the identification of malware and viruses and their prevention.
The solution posed could be non-viable because it is not finding the specific attacker, it is simply finding who is most likely to commit an attack. However, if we are collecting information on all transgressors it will be easier to decrypt the kind of malware or encryption they have used to hide their location. The basis of the solution is also prevention so that the attack does not occur in the first place. This can be used whether it be a nation state or non state actor. If we wait to act until after we have been hacked, it will be a bigger problem and harder to deal with. If countries are already collecting data on us we should justifiably be doing the same thing to them.
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