The US government is gradually developing the capability to address the gigantic threat that is now hanging over the entire world, the threat of a state sponsored cyber attack. An attack by a state such as Russian Federation, People’s Republic of China, even Iran, are capable of knocking out key infrastruture that supports our daily lives. Some potential targets could be the water supply, the power grid, the banking and financial trading system, strategic military assets. and much much more. At the core of this vulnerability is the interconnectivity of today’s modern computer networks that make these systems operate.
While the Department of Defense set up a whole command aimed at both defensive and offensive exploitation of computer networks and the FBI has a task force dedicated to hunting down cyber criminals. the National Security Agency has begun something that could lay the foundation for a national defense infrastructure of strategic national computer networks. According to the Wall Street Journal, the NSA has awarded a project, Perfect Citizen, estimated at $100 million only for the initial phase to Raytheon, a key defense contractor, to install highly classified sensors at important computer networks throughout the country. These sensors will be responsible for both obtaining information on possible cyber attacks and providing timely information in order to prevent damage to key US infrastructure sites, both government and private.
This is but a first step in what looks like a systematic approach to a wider plan in protecting not only our national interests, but our national security. Now that the government is developing the technical structure and methodology on protecting our key networks, the next question that is surely floating inside the halls of power in Washington is what is considered an cyber attack that requires a response? Also, they need to figure out how would such a response would look like?
Finally, while the NSA is a long way from protecting small and medium sized businesses, we need to protect ourselves. Managed Host Based Security service and Managed Services for computer networks is already being done for thousands of companies and could reduce the risk of viruses, malware, data theaft, unauthorized network penetration, and cyber attack to a very low threat level.