Although not much of a surprise to read this headline that the US is not ready for a cyber attack and I guess Yogi Berra was right with his famous “It’s like deja-vu, all over again.” Clearly the September 11th attack was a wake-up call, but not a surprise that the US was vulnerable and has enemies foreign and domestic, but given our growing dependency on the Internet headlines of this sort do not portend well for the future. Last summer’s conflict in Georgia when Russia hijacked websites was not a surprise, and only reinforced how easily cyber attacks can occur.
How Easy it is?
A couple of years ago I attended a conference where a world renown hacker was the keynote speaker. He explained that because of known problems with Microsoft wireless software that he managed to access the hard drives of every passenger who was using their computer on his airplane flight a few days before. In spite of the fact that he had reported the flaw to Microsoft they failed to acknowledge or fix the problem. When I spoke at the next session I saw him in the back of the room using his computer, he told me that he was able to see the contents of everyone in the room who had their computer turned on except for those of us who had their wireless feature turned off.
What’s at Risk?
The economy is suffering badly enough and about the last thing the US needs is a cyber attack on our banking and/or electric energy systems. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recommends the appointment of a White House "cybersecurity czar,” but that has not happened yet and we are vulnerable. Without doubt the Obama administration will have to deal with this sooner rather than later, but hopefully not after a major melt-down following some disastrous cyber attack.