Why Do We Allow Hackers to Continue to Threaten Critical National Infrastructures?

Financial losses due to cybercrime now exceed the total dollar amount of the illegal global drug trade – more than one trillion dollars. By the year 2025 the total loss is projected to be more than six trillion dollars. That’s Incredible!

The entire critical infrastructure of every nation state is clearly at risk.

The significant threats arrayed against a modern country, like the United States, may be examined from the purview of its sixteen interconnected and vital economic and industrial sectors. The elements range from energy sectors and finance all the way to national defense and health care. The interdependencies are totally entwined.

A former Director of National Intelligence of the United States labeled cybercrime as being the number one national security threat.

Every nation whose political and commercial leaders fail to aggressively respond to the threats that are lined-up against its vital infrastructure is in deep trouble. Truthfully, this author remains unimpressed with the tepid response by businesses, government officials and every day citizens to the massive threats against civil society. The risks are virtually being ignored.

The author has presented in dozens of locations throughout the United States and world on the dangers facing the digital processing infrastructure. Every country that has established automated computer controls in its economy and way-of-life is facing similar threats from cybercriminals to rogue nation states who want to steal money or wage an unrestricted information war with the goal of global domination.

Our populations are largely unaware of the size of the problem. Many of the very politicians and leaders who should be providing solid leadership are ignoring the obvious signs and the consequences.

The critical national infrastructures of every modern nation is interconnected to the point that the weakest link can be exploited to create the catastrophic destruction of an entire country. Yet we continue to rush head first into becoming more and more dependent upon digital interfaces, sensors and controls each day.

We are now wide-open to what one author, Winn Schwartau, referred to as a “Digital Pearl Harbor.”

The combined bundle of information security threats and vulnerabilities is massive. The threats are asymmetric in nature. They can range from a single individual who purchases a malware software package on the Internet to a nation-state that uses an information warfare battalion to scout soft infrastructure targets to exploit.

Part of the author’s professional experience included working with the intelligence community to detect what is known as ‘over-the-horizon’ threats. I can assure you that there are legions of threats focusing on the disruption and destruction of civilized society.

Adversaries are currently cataloging interconnected information system vulnerabilities throughout the world. Law abiding nations as well as business and industry are significantly behind the curve – largely due to complacency.

Is it really that bad?

Consider answering the following question if you are having difficulty grasping the scope of the information security threat: “How many critical national infrastructures are fully protected against the effects of a high energy EMP* weapon attack against your country’s digital nerve centers?” The answer is too few. Business and commerce, as well as civil authorities can barely handle the effects of a snow storm, let alone survive widespread digital destruction.

An EMP attack aimed at a nation’s digital infrastructure has the potential to literally destroy all unprotected computer circuits and render all devices, including computers, digital controls and smart phones, inoperable.

A modern nation state faces horrible and unimaginable effects in the event of a successful attack against his or her nation’s critical national infrastructure. An intelligence officer once commented upon the reality in simple terms. He said, “He who has the oxcart wins!” Too many of us fail to even acknowledge the problem.

I challenge you to learn all that you can about strengthening your information security preparedness.

* An EMP is a weapon designed to generate a pulse of high energy gamma rays that can be destructive or damaging to delicate electronic circuits and equipment over a wide area.

Learn more about computer security Access the author’s website http://www.computer-security-glossary.org and the eBook “Create A Hacker Free Zone”.

Dr. William G.Perry is the founder and publisher of the Computer Security Glossary. It provides high quality information security guidance to individuals and organizations that must plan for the protection of mission critical information in an asymmetric threat environment while complying with industrial- strength information security standards

Dr. Perry is a Professor Emeritus of computer information systems with significant experience in digital security, author and service provider to various federal agencies including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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