Recent cyber attacks on the Federal Reserve, The New York Times, and the Washington Post have raised the spectre of a new brand of warfare — cyber war. In a recent study conducted by two research firms for Internet security company Tenable Network Security, some 60% of respondents support increased government spending “to train and equip ‘cyberwarriors’ to defend the U.S. against outside attacks.”
Now because Tenable sells Internet security products, the company does have a dog in the hunt. Even so, the results are impressive given the recent new reports on the hacking of government and private networks. For example:
- 93% of those surveyed believe that U.S. companies are at least somewhat vulnerable to state-sponsored cyber attacks
- 95% believe that the U.S. government is at least somewhat vulnerable to attacks
- 94% believe the President should have the same authority to repel cyber attacks as he has to respond to physical attacks
Numbers that high can’t simply be the result of fear-mongering and conspiracy theories. After all, the attacks are often aimed at personal information that companies or governments maintain on U.S. citizens. No one wants that data to fall into the wrong hands.
The irony of the situation, of course, is that the U.S. has already launched at least one cyber attack — the Stuxnet worm — against Iran with the intention of slowing down that country’s nuclear development program. But did that action essentially give other actors, whether individuals or states like China, permission to launch cyber attacks of their own?