U.S. Director of National Intelligence Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper, USAF (Ret.), recently testified in Congress that cyber attacks have become the greatest single threat facing the United States. He went on to say the threat is particularly acute for the nation’s critical infrastructure and reminded Congress that the majority of critical infrastructure in the United States is privately owned.
The European Union Internal Security Plan, written in 2011 and updated annually, makes the same assertion: cyber security has become the greatest vulnerability for the European Union and its member nations.
Cybersecurity has become so important because the range of threats includes recreational hackers, hacktivists, cyber criminals, terrorists, and state or state-sponsored actors. The targets include government networks, systems, applications and data as well as those of industry and private citizens. At the same time, the tools available to bad actors are diverse, sophisticated and inexpensive or free—and easy to obtain on the Internet.
If you have not visited a cyber laboratory recently, I encourage you to do so. Should you have doubted the seriousness of the threat, such a visit will make a believer of you. Many of AFCEA’s member companies have good laboratories; the iCollege at the National Defense University has a great set of laboratories specific to various types of systems; and the National Police Academy in Prague, Czech Republic, has done some amazing work in computer forensics that will open your eyes. In addition, the NATO Cyber Center of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia, was developed to support a multinational approach to cybersecurity.