The Security Detail

Feb 14 2013   10:36AM GMT

9 out of 10 people believe the US is vulnerable to cyber warfare

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

The Economist recently quoted Richard Bejtlich, a respected authority on cybersecurity and CSO of Mandiant, saying, “No one in the United States is expected to provide for their own air defence.”

Bejtlich added, “We have an army to repel a land invasion, so who is out there protecting the cyber lanes of control? Nobody. It is a free for all.”

The Bejtlich quote is an interesting prelude to President Obama calling on Congress to act to strengthen cybersecurity during the recent State of the Union speech, and issuing a cyber security executive order to get the ball rolling.

Based on a survey conducted by Tenable Network Security, the vast majority of people tend to agree that the United States–both private and public sector–is ill-prepared to defend itself against cyber warfare attacks, and support efforts to strengthen our cyber defenses, and expand the power of the President to respond to cyber threats.

Results from the survey include:

    • 60% support government-trained “cyberwarrior” program
    • 92% of Americans believe critical infrastructure (e.g., public utilities) are vulnerable to attack
    • 93% believe U.S. corporations are vulnerable to state-sponsored cyberattacks
    • 94% support President having authority to respond as he would to physical attacks against the country
    • 66% believe corporations should be held responsible for cyberattacks against consumers
    • 62% say government should be responsible for protecting U.S. businesses from cyberattacks

“It’s clear American citizens see the threat of cyber conflict around the corner, and the nation’s state of readiness for such attacks is a major concern,” said Ron Gula, a former cyber security expert with the NSA and now CEO and CTO of Tenable Network Security.

4  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Michael Tidmarsh
    I'm amazed 92% of Americans think critical infrastructures are vulnerable to attack, especially when the United States government has some of the best securities against these type of attacks.
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  • TomLiotta
    But the U.S. government doesn't control much of the overall power grid infrastructure. While I suspect major gridlines may be more secure, in Washington state as well as many others, local and regional power infrastructure is controlled by Public Utilities Districts. These are often small organizations with all of the issues of basic small business anywhere. A weakness in any one of them provides an opening perhaps to all of the others. Escalation of authorities can be useful regardless of the type of system. -- Tom
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  • Tony Bradley
    The United States government seems to have some very advanced and innovative cyber security tools, but it's fairly universally accepted that the critical infrastructure is exposed to risk and insufficiently protected.
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  • Tony Bradley
    That's true. Much of what is considered to be part of the critical infrastructure for the nation is actually comprised of privately held companies that the government has no direct control over. However, those businesses that fall into that category need to recognize and respect the importance they have to the safety and stability of the nation as a whole, and be willing to cooperate with and take direction from the government moreso than say a coffee shop or a guitar store. The government relies on that cooperation to some extent as well, because the utilities know their business and their weaknesses better than the government. They have to work together to identify weaknesses and develop protection, mitigation, and emergency response plans.
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