There have been multiple cases of large-scale cyber attacks in past weeks by hackers from overseas on U.S. agencies and private entities. As cyberterrorism is becoming an increasingly legitimate threat, what steps can the U.S. government take to both defend America’s borders from hackers and respond to these attacks?
By Marshall Bornemann
Do not let the title fool you. Although the U.S. may be short of computer wonks to fix its looming digital security problem, the federal government is taking every chance to promote educational cyber-security programs.
Thinking about how and when Americans could truly ever feel secure, many skeptics believe that living in such a fast-paced world will never allow for total security. We need not mention the fact that “globalization,” a cliché term used to explain today’s economic reach through just one country, is contributing substantially to this problem. Hackers, mostly from China, are on a never-ending quest to infiltrate our most guarded, information-sensitive computers.
An article in the New York Times points to the lethal cyber command of China. President Barack Obama and his officials sent out letters to the U.S.‘s main internet providers, detailing addresses that have so far led to the whereabouts of hackers in Shanghai. We have been able to fight back, but we need to be mindful that those who have served in government positions for countless years will have to eventually retire.
In 1947, Congress established the National Security Council, the body that helped establish our current foreign policy procedures. So far, the organization has hired effective, passionate college graduates seeking work that not only pays but also lives up to the title of “public service.”
With more young people weighing their career options near graduation, gaining on-the-job training in computer programming will prove vital for our national security and gives reason for us to worry less in the coming years.
Expanding educational programs at the K-12 level will be a vital solution to our national security dilemma. By noting what will be sure to motivate the next generation of workers, companies and government contractors will need to advertise lucrative positions within the cyber security industry. Money talks.
Marshall Bornemann is a junior in the School of International Service.
By Emma Gray
The Washington Post reported Feb. 20 that cyberspies have penetrated most D.C. institutions. In addition to government offices, hackers have breached law firms, think tanks, news organizations and human rights groups.
Because of these embarrassing lapses in security, the U.S. government is becoming increasingly accusatory toward nations housing the cyberattackers. In most cases, China has been targeted as the source of these security violations. The Chinese government continues to deny these claims, but the fact that the country has much to gain from the information in these protected databases cannot be overlooked.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that “rules of the road” need to be established for global cyberactivity, noting that China is not the only source of cyberspies or hackers. She seemed to be calling for an international consensus on penalties for these infringements.
It’s extremely difficult to convict criminals across international borders, especially if they never committed a crime while in a country other than their own. Clinton’s proposed path is logical. However, it is unlikely that this will actually deter ever-evolving criminal networks or governments from engaging in these activities.
Furthermore, taking a strong stance on the issue could prove to be detrimental for the U.S. in the future. U.S. agencies such as the FBI and CIA have been known to use methods for intelligence purposes that cross into gray areas. To propose any kind of action against cyberspies would theoretically limit U.S. intelligence departments as well.
More practical steps need to be taken to improve both the government’s and private organizations’ cybersecurity measures. We are now aware that computers are not safe from cybercriminals thousands of miles away who leave little remaining evidence. One possible action would be to stop storing important or valuable information on computer or internet databases. Although contrary to the current pro-technology mindset of business, returning to a manual system of storing documents would definitely keep things more protected, especially from international hackers.
Because it is impractical to do away with computers completely, the government should also seek to hire private companies whose employees are specifically trained to monitor this kind of cyberactivity. It’s no longer practical for the government to check cybersecurity every month, every week, even every day. The increasing intelligence of these cyber hackers means that they can penetrate through security quickly and without any warning. Companies need constant monitoring for this kind of activity as well as someone who knows how to react to a potential attack. Private companies with this kind of knowledge are out there and should be utilized by increasingly vulnerable U.S. government and non-government institutions.
Emma Gray is a junior in the School of Communication.