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A Cyber Pearl Harbor Day

by christian on December 7, 2009

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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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