After Google-China dust-up, cyberwar emerges as a threat
The episode highlighted cyberthreats facing the U.S., but it's not a war -- yet
Computerworld - Few events have crystallized U.S. fears over a cyber catastrophe, or brought on calls for a strategic response, more than the recent attacks against Google and more than 30 other tech firms.
The company's disclosure in January that it was attacked by China-based hackers -- and its subsequent decision to scale back operations there -- have stoked long-standing fears over the ability of cyber adversaries to penetrate commercial and government networks in the U.S.
If a full-fledged cyberwar were to break out, the nation's economy would be hit hard. Banks might not be able function, electricity, water and other utilities could be shut off, air travel would almost certainly be disrupted, and communications would be spotty at best -- in a word, chaos.
Few think that such a war is imminent. But damage has already been done by a slew of cyberattacks that, while well short of cyberwar, have still resulted in the theft of terabytes of intellectual property data, trade secrets and classified military and government information. That information is now in the hands of overseas groups, many of which are thought to be state-sponsored.
It's not just data and secrets. Cyberthieves have also made off with billions of dollars from U.S companies and banks, and there are growing concerns that cyberattackers are making subtle changes to software source code. That way, they can create permanent windows into a company's operations for future mischief.
An 'existential threat'
Many see the attacks as evidence that the U.S. is already in the midst of an undeclared cyberwar, with attacks against government targets estimated to have more than doubled in the past two years. Just last week, a top FBI official called cyberattacks an "existential threat" to the U.S. On Friday, two U.S. senators now pushing cybersecurity legislation in Congress reiterated those sentiments.
And Mike McConnell the former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and director of national intelligence during the Bush administration, recently said in a Washington Post column that the U.S is not only fighting such a war, it's also losing the battle.
That sentiment was echoed by U.S. Navy Admiral Robert Willard. who warned Congress about U.S military and government networks being hit by attacks that appeared to originate from China. The attacks are challenging the military's ability to "operate freely in the cyber commons," he said.
- After Google-China dust-up, cyberwar emerges as a threat
- Targeted attacks test enterprise security controls
- Is the U.S. the nation most vulnerable to cyberattack?
- In cyberwar, who's in charge?
- Schmidt: Private sector key to stopping Google-style attacks
- Threat of cyberattacks from overseas high, federal IT execs say
- Estonia readies for the next cyberattack
- Think tank in Estonia ponders war in cyberspace
- Botnets 'the Swiss Army knife of attack tools'
- 'Cyber War' author: U.S. needs radical changes to protect against attacks
- Special report: Web giants attacked
This pilot fish is a contractor at a military base, working on some very cool fire-control systems for tanks. But when he spots something obviously wrong during a live-fire test, he can't get the firing-range commander's attention.
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