April 11, 2017, by Rachelle Wilber – There is constant talk about securing the borders of the United States. This refers to securing the physical borders, but there are virtual borders accessible through electronic infrastructure that are constantly under threat and attack. There has been plenty of recent news stories about cyber-attacks from the questions of Russian involvement in manipulating the Trump/Clinton presidential election to the alleged involvement of North Korea in the Sony Pictures hack of 2014. There are websites that show live incoming cyber threats crossing U.S. borders, and most are coming from China. Even though the greatest number of threats to the United States originate within its own borders, the center stage is militarized cyber warfare concerns being backed by foreign governments.
Chinese Government-Backed Cyber Warfare
Cyber warfare is not restricted to governments hacking other governments. It can be foreign governments threatening U.S. businesses such as an NBC News article about the FBI warning businesses in the United States of China-backed cyber-attacks. Lenovo is partly owned by Chinese-held companies. Due to preinstalled software causing beaconing back to China, the United States military became concerned that Lenovo computers and tablets could pose a security threat.
Homeland Security Cyber Warfare Protection
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the United States was formed a little more than one year after the 9/11 terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Airplanes were used to destroy the World Trade Center twin towers in New York and heavily damaged the Pentagon. A third plane was kept from being used when the passengers attacked the terrorists, and the plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Part of the mission of the DOHS is in the area of cyber security, which includes both civilian-initiated attacks as well as cyber threats backed by foreign governments. The threat of cyber warfare against U.S. targets continues to increase, and the DHS maintains active recruitment of qualified cybersecurity professionals. The demand for experts has increased educational opportunities as well. One can now earn an information assurance degree online that could potentially lead to a federal career protecting civilian and government cyber infrastructure.
Russian Citizens Exploiting American Naiveté
A lot of the “fake news” President Trump mentions traces back to individuals in Russia who use the viral nature of sensationalism simply to earn money by exploiting American naiveté. A single user can build websites, monetize them with ads, then, post sensational headlines on social media to generate clicks on the links. They start with a headline that grabs attention and then link it to a page with ads. Less than savvy Internet users click on the link to see the sensationalized story on a website that poses as a legitimate news source. The clicks result in ad revenue being earned.
Military and Infrastructure Threat
Some hackers are only in it for the money. They steal information such as credit card numbers and identities to get money. Others may approach their cyber breaching as anarchists or through the naive belief that all information should be openly available to everyone. Governments, regimes, and violent religious zealots may seek to finance their causes, obtain intelligence data, or cause economic or infrastructure chaos and harm. Each day more of America gets “online” as in computers and networks being accessible through remote access. This puts everything from nuclear power plants to military weapons systems at risk of being hacked. The threat to financial institutions, hospitals, and emergency and government services is real. The threat is so real that the U.S. Military wants 133 teams for its Cyber Missions Force by 2018.
All connected systems are vulnerable. When was the last time you used a computer, TV, phone or automobile that was not somehow connected to a network by Ethernet, cellular data, satellite communications or Wi-Fi? Everything from DaVinci Surgical robots to some major home appliances is now remotely accessible and therefore controllable. Cyber warfare threats are therefore taken seriously to protect lives as well as the American way of life.
Bio: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on twitter: @RachelleWilber