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CybersecurityReport warns U.S. unprepared for cyber attacks

Published 16 September 2011

A new report warns that the United States lacks the capabilities to defend against expanding cyber threats; the report found, “The impact has increased in magnitude, and the potential for catastrophic collapse of a company has grown,” yet the businesses community has failed to understand that

A new report warns that the United States lacks the capabilities to defend against expanding cyber threats.

In recent years, cyber attacks have increased in sophistication making them more dangerous and damaging than ever before, the report said.

The Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), a non-partisan national security organization led by Frances Townsend, a former homeland security adviser in the Bush administration, found, “The impact has increased in magnitude, and the potential for catastrophic collapse of a company has grown,” yet the businesses community has failed to understand that.

To better defend against these attacks, INSA recommends that the United States develop a coordinated cyber security strategy that is beyond the current “patch and pray” procedures, establish cyber intelligence policies, and improve information sharing between government agencies and businesses.

In addition the report also urges the government to develop more effective cyber intelligence so officials can assess and mitigate risks.

INSA points to failed states as well as the countries that tolerate criminal cyber activity within their borders as the primary threats to the United States. The report does not name the countries, but U.S. officials have repeatedly pointed to Russia, China, and several Eastern European countries as safe havens for cybercriminals as well as government-sponsored attacks.

The report also points to the growing problem of a complex global supply chain for computer components that allows malicious actors slip contaminated chips into U.S. networks that make it easier for hackers to surreptitiously steal sensitive data or introduce dangerous viruses. Much of the development of computer chips has been outsourced, and chips are now shipped all around the world before they are eventually installed in computers in the United States.

The present situation is as dangerous as if the United States decided to outsource the design of bridges, electrical grids, and other physical infrastructure to the Soviet Union during the Cold War,” INSA concluded.

The full report is scheduled to be released later this month.