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A Cyber Pearl Harbor Day

by christian on December 7, 2009

cyber-pearl-harbor

Today we remember the tragic events that occurred back in 1941 at Pearl Harbor.  This was the threshold level event that drew the United States into World War II. 

As we remember the tragedy of that day and the toll it took on the United States, we must remind ourselves to be vigilant and not let a repeat of that event to ever take place.  Last week the question of an electronic Pearl Harbor was asked over and over again.  Is it possible?  The answer is yes.  Is it probable?  That is where the debate comes in. 

There are a number of groups that would like nothing more than to bring the United States to its knees.  There are certainly vulnerabilities that could be exploited in the nation’s critical infrastructure that could cause substantial disruption of critical services.  

For nearly two decades now cyber warfare capabilities have been recognized as a strategic power and many believe this power is on par with weapons of mass destruction. Many governments around the world have awoken and seen the strategic value of cyber weapons and have integrated cyber capabilities in the military doctrine and plans. What is equally as concerning is the pursuit of these weapons by terrorists.  Last week Northrop Grumman announced the formation of a Cyber Security Research Consortium to help secure the nation’s critical infrastructure and to counter the growing threats from cyber attacks. 

As former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell put it – “We will not get focused on this problem until we have some catastrophic event.”   While there is movement, the bottom line is an electronic Pearl Harbor might be what happens before appropriate level of action is taken. 

Kevin Coleman

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

JimboJones December 7, 2009 at 3:28 pm

*You are now reading this in the voice of Jimbo Jones*

Unless there are deaths due to such an internet pearl harbour the US will simply do what it does everytime it has a vicious cyber attack; that is they will do absolutely nothing except whinge and whine.

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Brian B December 7, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Kevin

Please define an appropriate level of action.

Department of Defense = US Cyber Command and Major Service Cyber Components.

FBI has their own Cyber Task Force

DHS has stood up its Cyber Defense Center

Congressman Jim Langevin is caling the power companies to congress to find out why they lied to his committee about security.

What more action do you think is needed? Seriously I am curious about what you would consider an appropriate level of action beyond what is currently being done?

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Brandon Avery December 7, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Maybe if any of those groups could effectivlely do what they were intended? or at a large enough/effiecient enough to deter cyber criminals?

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Brian B December 7, 2009 at 5:48 pm

How do you know they cannot? Or are not?

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kcw December 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm
Brian B December 7, 2009 at 8:21 pm

All for style, with little substance. A disservice is done however to everyone in the DoD/Law Enforcement/Homeland Security Community working this issue when the pontifications of the Whitehouse are equated to the actual work being done by them.

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Ryan Taylor December 7, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Is the convenience of having all of our critical infrastructure like, water, electricity, natrual gas, etc, accessible by networks worth the risk of them being so vulnerable?

History has shown us that if someone creates a barrier or wall, that in time it will be overcome. What if we just avoid it all together by not allowing remote access to critical systems?

Why can't a piece of criticial infrastructure like a hydro-electric dam for example, have a closed local network only? The network can be accessed by any PC on the network on site at the dam, but it has no ability to connect to outside networks (i.e. no internet access)

Have all of the critcal controls and overrides on site of course, and if you need to view data from the site simply open outbound ports only, or have some kind of relay that transmits but does not receive data.

I am no expert on the subject and I am sure that there are other processes that remote access to and control of are critical. I'm just throwing this out there for debate and hoping to see some more ideas and opinions from others as a result.

Are we really worried about

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Valcan December 7, 2009 at 8:31 pm

This administration has done very little helpful sence it began. Heck most of what it proclaims is just that. A proclamation for us either to follow or just window dressing. Obama understands better than any politician ive seen that to rule the american people (and even many other nations) all you have to do is lie. Then call the oposition liers, racist or anything else negative. So he makes statments and talks alot.

Anyways i think Ryan has the best idea. And its one ive had before id like to hear why its not possible.

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Ptsfp December 7, 2009 at 9:30 pm

We do face a problem like we faced during Pearl Harbor.

For the most part, people are ignoring the signs, warnings and penetration attempts. China is our number one trade partner, and Obama is trying to make new relations with Russia and playing with North Korea & Iran all in the hope of working things out. At the same time, they are probing our nets and trying to install back doors in critical infrastructure systems. I am reminded of the Peace medals that Japan was giving the US while her aircraft carriers were getting into position at Pearl.

For the most part the US problem is complacency. As long as we can get to Facebook, Google and watch videos on Youtube, all is well. The government is starting to take action, but unless we, as a nation, respond together, we may be in for a digital Pearl Harbor.

When the attack was over, the sleeping giant, America was awoken. As the Americans attached the Japanese peace medals to the bombs dropped on Japan, we need strong response capabilities, clear legislation and unified action.

- Ptsfp

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Valcan December 8, 2009 at 12:33 am

I think the likly hood that cyber attacks will be used in negotiations and talks much more likely. Say china wants to take control of a select group of island.

They start messing with the power grid. Not much, just enought to get officials to take notice. And american politicians and diplomates do what there best at. Betrey our allies for our enemies. And we wake up and still dont see we have lost the power to control our country while mentioning all the power outages latly. sigh

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Oble December 9, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Wow Kevin begging terrorists for a Cyber Pearl Harbour to justify his company's services. Talk about a new low.

But unluckily for Kevin, the bombing of the pacific fleet didn't occur shortly after the invention of the pop gun. There was a long history of aerial attacks on ships that preceded the operation not the vague unsubstantiated and outright fabricated "attacks" that cyber consultants wave their hands at.

If it was 1941 Kevin would be lobbying congress to divert millions of dollars to defend against japanese rice paper balloons with his patented bottle rockets.

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brian November 29, 2010 at 5:44 pm

that wasn't good. It needs more Info.plese put more. now. I need more info. But other then that it was great .THANKS. IT WAS READIBLE AND LOVEABLE BUT A LITTLE BIT SCARY BYE.

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