As threats to the United States are evolving in both the real and virtual worlds, our defenses against cyberattacks have to be coordinated and strengthened, according to military analysts and members of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Whether foreign hackers cause a widespread energy shutdown, inflict serious physical damage or activate a nuclear meltdown, the United States cannot be complacent just because a Sept. 11-like attack has not yet taken place. The cyberthreat from communist China and other enemies is real, and we can see it evolving.
In a February 2012 report, the Mandiant cybersecurity firm identified China as the source of nearly 90 percent of cyberattacks against the United States. Last fall, these hackers targeted a company that provides remote access to more than 60 percent of North America's oil and gas pipelines. Their attack was discovered, but they could not be stopped from stealing project files. The nation's air-traffic control system also has been attacked by hackers who penetrated servers and stole personal information. It is hard to estimate the damage our enemies could cause if they gained control over American commercial aviation.
Cyberattacks on the United States and our allies have also come from Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Russia. Last year, Iranians targeted the state Saudi Arabian Oil Co. with the goal of stopping Saudi Arabia's production. This year, Iran made service-interruption attacks against major U.S. banks.
The Obama administration has made progress in information sharing among our security assets, but it lacks congressional authority to provide the liability protections that industry and our private sector need to properly share cyberthreat information with the federal government. Therefore, Congress must establish statutory means to allow full-spectrum coordination of our defenses to thwart attacks we can see and about which we can connect the dots. While facilitating the sharing of cyberdata, Congress must help the American infrastructure and our economy work.
LT. COL. DOMINIK GEORGE NARGELE
U.S. Marines (retired)
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