Let’s Talk About It

Army Gen. Keith Alexander, US Cyber Command boss, thinks the United States would be safer if the federal government and private industries developed legal standards of cyber security. Much-contended cyber legislation pending in the Senate would be “absolutely vital to the future of our nation,” he said during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., on July 9. He noted that, to date, most cyber infiltrations have been disruptive rather than destructive. While hackers who exploit personal information steal billions of dollars annually, there have been no catastrophic events from a hacker infiltrating and exploiting vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, said Alexander. However, cyber attacks would not always be so harmless, he said. In 2009, there were only nine cyber attacks on critical infrastructure; in 2011, there were 160. Alexander said it was important to understand cyber threats and have a way to discuss these threats with industry, and that near-instantaneous information sharing would be essential to a secure cyber world. He likened the role of cyber defenders to firefighters: they do not camp outside houses or dry fields, waiting for a fire to spark, but they respond when they are needed. (AEI webpage of event, with video link)