Mark Caserta: US is ill prepared for a cyber attack

4 Dec


Dec. 04, 2014 @ 12:01 AM
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As the most powerful and the most “wired” nation in the world, we’re well beyond speculation of a cyber attack on the United States. In fact, according to the National Security Agency, such an attack is imminent.

The agency’s new director, Admiral Michael Rogers, says he expects a major cyber attack against the U.S. in the next decade. And that it’s only a matter of “when,” not “if,” we’re going to see something traumatic occur in our nation’s cyber space.

During recent testimony before a House Intelligence Committee hearing, Rogers revealed the NSA was watching multiple nations invest in this dangerous capability to hack into U.S. infrastructure systems. His testimony is the most specific warning from the government to date about the likelihood of such an attack and included a candid acknowledgment that the United States simply isn’t prepared to manage the threat.

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Rogers, who also heads the military’s U.S. Cyber Command, highlighted several emerging threats that will become significant problems in the coming year. One such threat involves nations such as China and “one or two others” that U.S. officials maintain are currently infiltrating the networks of industrial control systems behind infrastructure like our power grid, nuclear power plants, air traffic control and subway systems.

“There shouldn’t be any doubt in our minds that there are nation-states and groups out there that have the capability to do that,” Rogers said. “We’re watching multiple nations invest in that capability.” He added the U.S. needs to work more aggressively on deterring such attacks.

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NATO took the threat so seriously it recently organized mock cyber-war game trials in Estonia that indicated the western nations are aware of the need to fight on a new battlefield where the size or military prowess of a nation is insignificant.

In recent years, our enemies have witnessed how portions of our nation react during crises, which have included power outages and/or food and water shortages. We’ve had cities bordering the edge of anarchy. And these same enemies have made exceedingly greater progress in their sophisticated cyber-warfare techniques than we have achieved in defending ourselves.

Just as the United States is evolving its military strategies to include less physical presence in the theater of war, our enemies are as well. Consider the potential of a coordinated attack on the U.S. in which our infrastructure was paralyzed by a cyber attack while we simultaneously sustained numerous internal terrorist attacks of a physical or chemical nature.

Frankly, I’m uneasy putting this in writing, but the solution must begin with discussion. This isn’t an attack we’ll see coming on a radar screen. There will be no reaction time. Understand, the depth of a cyber attack isn’t contingent upon military strength and in fact “levels” the playing field of battle. Only a proactive approach to strengthening our cyber defense systems will protect our nation.

We recognize our vulnerability and so does the enemy. Let’s expeditiously contract our nation’s brightest minds to prepare for this impending onslaught against America before it’s too late.


Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

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