IEEE calls for increased investment in cybersecurity

Published 17 July 2006

The leading electronic engineering organization warns of vulnerability of U.S. IT infrastructure, and calls for more investment in it

The U.S. IT infrastructure is vulnerable to hackers, terrorists, organized crime syndicates, and natural disasters. There is thus a need for increased funding for cybersecurity research and development, according to a recent position adopted by the respectable Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-USA). “Because of society’s complete reliance on information technology and cyber networks, all the critical infrastructures and networks are interdependent and interconnected,” IEEE-USA stated. “A cyber attack on one sector’s infrastructure may have devastating consequences to another sector. U.S. infrastructure is not adequately prepared to defend against such risks.”

Practically every aspect of life in the United States is tied to computers. Air traffic control systems, power grids, financial systems, public health records, and military and intelligence cyber networks, among others, all depend on computer networks. According to IEEE-USA, core Internet protocols such as Internet routing, e-mail, and end-user authentication are at risk of cyber attack. To help mitigate the risk of attack, IEEE-USA recommends that Congress and the executive branch work with private industry to:

—Authorize and appropriate increased and stable funding for cybersecurity research

—Encourage and support cybersecurity technology transfer programs

—Facilitate commercialization

—Facilitate development and implementation of cybersecurity standards

—Support cybersecurity education programs

Not only has the government traditionally played an important role in financing such efforts, but IEEE-USA strongly believes that, without the government driving a long-term cyber security vision, industry will most likely continue to make only incremental advances and improvements based on short-term, market-driven and adverse risk factors,” the organization says.

MORE: According to a recent survey sponsored by Bratislava, Slovakia-based ESET, a global provider of security software for enterprises and consumers, and conducted by Rochester, New York-based Harris Interactive, homeland computer security should be on high alert. The vast majority of U.S. adult computer users (88 percent) have an antivirus program installed on their personal computer, but about two in three (65 percent) have postponed updating their antivirus program, thus leaving them unprotected from the growing maliciousness of today’s online threats. The survey provides a look at the vast naïveté and complacency of today’s computer users with regard to online security. News release []