Enough With the Warnings!

By Kevin Coleman – DefenseTech Cyber Warfare Correspondent

Last week Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that the future holds a major threat from cyber technologies that will require civil and military coordination to shield American networks from attack. He went on to add, “that’s just the reality that we all face.”  

Enough with the warnings, it is well past time for action. The U.S. has a habit of waiting until something happens to take action. Gates and other military and intelligence leaders, past and present, have all talked about working with the private sector to address this growing threat. The price tag is high. One estimate put the cost of protecting our critical infrastructure (repair and / or replace) at $60 billion over a 5 year period. Given the current attitude of business leaders, the private sector will NOT spend this kind of cash any time soon. 

The cyber attack reviews and analysis that go on behind closed doors are chilling to say the least. Given these details are not public, critics are quick to point out the lack of ‘evidence’ of cyber hostilities. Other are concerned about the trouncing our civil liberties in the process of securing our critical systems and cyber space. We need to keep in mind that the threats from cyber space are far too significant and potentially damaging for the traditional sit and wait attitude.

  • The need to act is undeniable. We may be able to blow China out of the water in the physical world, but that won’t matter if they can cripple us through cyberspace. I’m no expert on this sort of thing, but there’s got to a way to seal off our critical infrastructure from the rest of the world.

  • Bob

    We will not act because to do so might involve offending someone -somewhere. It just isn’t politically correct, and it is very important for our decision makers to appear to be PC.

  • blight

    I think the US will be one of the first people to use cyberwarfare offensively. Americans love death-free, risk-free means of attacking our enemies: look at the drone strikes. No American coffins. If cyberattacks can hit our enemies no matter what country they’re in America may well develop a potent capability and use it frequently, taking advantage of the “early days” of cyberwarfare before rules and international this-and-thats muck you down. Hell, they might be doing it already…

  • Michael

    I wonder if we’ll ever see something of substance done about this. Much like with UFO’s, I want to believe…I want to believe the government will do something before it’s too late. But on the other hand, why should I think anything will change. Listen…I can hear the sound of draaaaaging feeeeet.

  • Capable Mariner

    Enough with the alarmist attitude that we aren’t doing anything! Would you like Secretary Gates to give you complete details on our plan of defense/and or attack. Would you like him to make some pronouncement that we are completly capable of withstanding any attack? No one can make that claim.

  • Insomniac

    “The U.S. has a habit of waiting until something happens to take action.”

    Yes, America is full of procrastinators.

  • Tim

    Your kidding me right ? I guarantee the NSA and GCHQ in the Uk are

    causing mayhem for the Chinese and Russian scumbags in the cyber world .

    My main concern is why there us any need for the military networks to be connected to the worldwide web ? This goes for all major infrastructure nodes . Why the hell are the crucial operating systems of our power grids hooked upto the Internet ?

    • Jacob

      Well, disconnecting your infrastructure from the web is probably irrelevant now that Stuxnet has shown us it can spread through flash drives….

    • Charles


      It is massively expensive to create a new connection from point A to point B. Creating a new connection involves renting pole or conduit space (if it is available; otherwise right of ways must be acquired and poles or conduit installed), purchase of transmission signal boosters, and purchase of signal conductor itself. Then all those items must be maintained for the life of the connection.

      By routing the needed connection through the Internet the above cost of creating a connection from A to B is spread out over everyone who is trying to communicate with points near A and B.

      Given that we use competition driven market any commercial ventures will be optimized for minimum costs. Thus a commercial venture will transmit pretty much all of its communications through the Internet.

      That is why crucial systems that are controlled by commercial entities transmit through the internet.

  • Tim the reason the Military and Civilian infrastructure in the US is interconnected is because it Runs on the same networks meaning the Phone lines Fiber optics and Satellites. Their is a law that requires the military/Gov to use civilian companies for a lot of its infrastructure services like communications accept for a few narrowly defined situations.

    Meaning the Army or Air force can assemble, install, and maintain, or operate its own Fiber optic cables connecting it’s Air basses and Army basses in the US they are required to use Civilian assets for this service leaving them vulnerable.

  • I meant Can’t Assemble, install, and maintain, or operate.

  • Hunter78

    Any system running Windows is totally open. I don’t have any great secrets to keep, so I run Windows.

  • Oblat

    >The cyber attack reviews and analysis that go on behind closed doors are chilling to say the least.

    Yea bunch of clueless consultants telling each other made up nonsense.

    The desperation of the cyberwar consultants as the DoD cash cow evaporates is palpable. And it turns out that all those Washington lunches that Kevin was bragging about weren’t enough to hook a contract.

    Like every bunch of new boys who arrive in Washington, they find out sooner or later that the game has been going on for decades and they are out in the cold.

  • Jonathan

    How could securing the internet cost 60 billion dollars?
    There is no way it could cost that much.

    Rhode Island operates on only 5 billion a year. So it would cost 30 times more to secure the internet then it does to run an entire state?

    Typical government.

  • Jonathan

    Whoops I meant 12 times as much. Im as good as math as the government is apparently.

    • Mahabala

      When discussing the cost of completely severing the critical information systems from comercial lines, you are looking at the cost of procuring routers, signal boosters for long distance traffic. and the installation of the lines to actually connect those pieces of equipment. All of which can’t be done with out a time consuming civillian contract bidding process and review by an outside agency hired by the people in charge cause they don’t understand any words on the bid over 4 letters.

      Thats why $60B is an understatement.

      • Jonathan

        What is putting critical information on seperate lines going to do to make it any more secure?

        The private lines can be “tapped” into in the same ways as the ones now can.

        Since to actually control or sniff the current system, you have to tap into the lines themselves at certain places.

        Its just going to mean China has to dig a hole in a different spot then they do now.

        Feel free to enlighten me differently

        • Jonathan

          If we cant secure our borders, how are we going to secure thousands of miles of this private fiber optic network?

  • Every thing I have heard China and any other hostile power dose not have to physically tap the line they can access those server and power plants from Main land China/Russian/NK/Tehran.

    They can lay their engined of destruction Via remote on the other side of the world.

  • This just doesn’t make sense. Hackers are coursing through the fiber optic cables, attacking websites at their leisure so what more could the US waiting for? They should just stop the debates, wake up, and smell the coffee. Cyber threats are real. Taking a reactive stance on cyber defense is just asking for trouble.

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