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The Cybersecurity Challenge

December 1, 2008
By H. Mosher

Incoming this month takes a look at the path we have taken so far in adapting to cyberspace-oriented challenges, with Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.) describing the phases we've been through: ignorance, awareness and actualization--where we are now. But, he says, we're not done, and probably never will be:

While actions are slowly moving in the right direction, we still are a long way from the last stage.

This fourth stage is the cyber mindset. In this stage, we reach a level of transformation where government, business and individuals are keenly aware of information security mechanisms. Cybersecurity becomes institutionalized and paramount in a rapidly changing information technology environment. In this new cyberculture, the concept of "service-oriented enterprise architectures" will help organizations understand their business environments better while supporting improved information sharing between the public and private sectors. Also, we will have sufficient, but not overburdening, legislation to improve the security of the global networked environment and enable operational resilience to cyberthreats. Strong identity management and authentication capabilities will become more tightly integrated into online transactions involving banking, collaboration and sharing of personal information.

Yet, while all this progress is occurring, cybercriminals, terrorist organizations and espionage forces will continue to focus on countering our best efforts. Obviously, the fourth stage never will reach steady state, but we will achieve a much higher state of effectiveness than today. Good efforts already are underway, and our collective sense of urgency is increasing daily. We certainly are on the verge of a new dawn for cybersecurity as a national priority.

So, the big question for this month is:
As cybercrime and cyberwarfare continue to be the defining challenges of the 21st century, how can the new administration and Congress best prepare the country to fully embrace cybersecurity as a national priority?

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