The United States national security serves not only its citizens but also the entire weak states around the world. Cyber threats to the US emanate from numerous sources. The sources range from traditional external factors like rogue states, to those highly sophisticated intruders that pose advanced and persistent threat. Other sources of cyber threat include inside sources lurking in the most trusted circles within the government, academia and industry. Industrial base within the US needs a lot of protection from ever morphing cyber threat.
The US national security can be vulnerable to a good number of cyber attackers. Some attacks lately are politically motivated while others are ill motivated for self-gain or damage of other’s people image or position. The US needs to improve its cyber defense at local, federal and state levels because attackers comprise many groups. Disgruntled insiders can penetrate official data and steal it for other malicious uses. Insiders within an organization are those people that do not get satisfied with their existing positions. Data loses and distortions are serious, and costly to any organization. This practice endangers the life of many US citizens and thus contributes to issues of national security.
Criminal groups are increasing daily because they want to intrude and make money from possession of sensitive data. Such groups can attack systems and rob valuable data. Data lost will always take long to recover. The groups may trick employees into giving them passwords and later use them to hack into system easily. Corporate security thus seems to be vulnerable to cyber crimes. Virus writers are another active group which damage networks than hackers do. On an average around thirty new viruses are disseminated daily. This sends a signal that many people are investing in cyber crime and thus it possesses a major threat to the national security of the US. It is normally costly to erase or delete these viruses and the best thing is to prevent their creation (Michael Vatis, 2002).
Foreign Intelligence services are making use of stolen data just to outwit their enemies. Cyber tools have been adopted by major foreign intelligence services: this has exacerbated the rise of cyber threat to the US borders and its people. Foreigners are enjoying intrusions into US major files that are sensitive because they use them for self-gain, and in perpetration of unnecessary conflicts and threats. Information warfare contributes a lot to cyber crime because enemies of the US envy the infrastructure of the military. These enemies will pay anything to get valuable data so that they develop doctrines, programs and other capabilities that will assist them in defeating the US and other nations. Terrorists are another group of criminals that physically harm many people in various ways through severe attacks. These people employ cyber technology to communicate, raise funds and even execute their plans.
Hacktivism is the latest group of cyber criminal gang in the market motivated by public access of web pages and email servers. This group works to get sensitive official data for political gain. However, their attack does not damage the networks but they disrupt the status quo and even deny others rights to communicate because of fear. Another group called recreational hackers exists. They hack or crack the system for the thrill or just to brag about accessing a very big company in the world. Recreational hackers can now download valuable data and use them against the company.
Major sectors have migrated to cloud computing and therefore cyber crime and threats will increase in due time. Technological protections are therefore required to ensure adequate safety for every person existing within the US soil. Securing the US national security from cyber threat is a daunting but it is insurmountable. Success demands strategies that are agile and adaptive to national security policies. The government cannot work alone in protecting its security from cyber threat. However, private stakeholders that are prone or rather exposed will assist a lot in bringing the threat under control. This enemy is technology driven and therefore necessary expertise will be required to provide necessary focus on the real threat and why it should be treated with a lot of care (Symposium Five, 2011).
Any brilliant strategy that will help defeat cyber threat must be supported by legislations, which are flexible in nature. Legislations must define the role of the government to ensure adequate balance of national security imperatives with personal, privacy. For successful results, the US led international agreements and sanctions should be clearly laid out and agreed as well. Citizens within the region should know what they are dealing with so that they are not caught in scenes, which are questionable. Cyber threat does not choose any sector because people on such illegal activities are normally out to make some gain without considering consequences.
According to McAfee an internet security firm, almost more than half of the infrastructure organizations around the world have reported hits from cyber attacks and infiltrations of large-scale nature. Russia and China are known for routinely probing American networks to get information and vulnerabilities that they will use as advantage for disputes in the future. However, recent studies have shown that even the private sector is becoming vulnerable to serious cyber attack over the next few years. Private sector firms will be a target in the future unlike the past where the government was one major target. The private sector has been working without any cyber protection at all. If some firms have then they are just preliminary ones that cannot stop large-scale infiltrations. Business survivals lately have been a problem and many have that greed to benefit more than others do. This factor explains why cases of cyber attacks are becoming frequent (GFI White Paper).
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The US industrial base is vulnerable to cyber threats that emerge from panoply of sources. Radical Islam groups around the world are some of these sources. Russia, china and other countries are constantly testing cyber defenses of the US. Threats also come from non-national actors’ namely terrorist cells, malicious hackers, thrill seekers, disgruntled employees and many others. Cyber world sometimes seems like any place where anyone can join and catch up with all the rules. The best examples are Facebook, Twitter and other similar tools, which are used to create new structures. Cyber attacks will now grow in frequency, magnitude and gravity due to these avenues. For example, the 2008 presidential campaigns for Barrack Obama suffered serious cyber attacks. The cyber attacks forced the entire officials on campaign to replace their laptops and blackberries since the intrusions were immense.
Cyber attackers and terrorists have some great relationships among themselves. Attackers might set off a bomb in a given area and disable 911’s emergency response simultaneously. Political conflicts can lead to higher levels of cyber attacks. For example, the 2001 mid air collision between Chinese fighter aircraft and American surveillance plane correlated with a number of cyber attacks for involved parties. Politically motivated hackers tend to attack high value targets such as networks, servers and routes whose interruptions will cause crises on financial, political and symbolic consequences. Cyber attackers take advantage of complications associated with cross border laws (C. Czosseck and K. Podins, 2010).
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Cyber crimes, which involve targets on multiple states or countries, tend to take time in tracing the trail. International cyber investigations can therefore pose serious problems because not all countries have the same levels of defense mechanisms to curb such actions. The transient or perishable nature of evidence requires expeditious response. Many foreign criminal and justice systems are poorly prepared to tackle cyber threats and crimes. Few countries including the US have substantial laws that regulate computer application and use. Even when threats are identified to emanate from a given country, the United States will not have express rights into such cases due to sovereignty matters among others.
Very few mechanisms assist in cyber investigations internationally. Formal arrangements for information sharing such as Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaties do not exist between all countries and the US. The US has only agreements with nineteen countries in the entire world. There are several reasons for such slow pace of agreements into cyber defense strategies across the world. Many countries are affected by cyber crime in varying levels and therefore some of them do not consider many cases as threats and crimes. Countries that have not suffered cyber crimes do not have adequate defense mechanisms and therefore cannot accept any cooperation with the United States.
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Many countries cannot distinguish between cyber crime and information warfare. Some countries do not take it with concern when the US government requests participation into such malicious cases. United States require constant review of its cyber laws from to time because there many technological changes taking place. Protecting the US industrial base is securing the future when the time is right. Cyber crime comes in all shapes and sizes and therefore it is necessary to devise systems that will reduce their effects to manageable levels. If cyber attacks increase within the US, many people may shy away from innovations and inventions with fears of theft and other issues in their environment.