Is the US at risk from cyberwarfare?

Will the US be the next Estonia?

May was not a good month for geeks in Estonia.

The tiny Baltic republic weathered a month-long cyberattack that shuttered Internet servers nationwide. At the height of the crisis, people who wanted to use payment cards to buy bread or gas had to wait, as the onslaught crippled Estonia's banks.

Investigators traced the attack to Russians angered by Estonia's decision to relocate the statue of a Red Army soldier erected during the Soviet era. Tensions over the incident led to rumors of Russian state involvement in the cyberattacks.

Even if these suppositions are never corroborated, Estonia's experience may be repeated elsewhere. "Estonia shows us how, as we become more networked and more wired, our vulnerabilities increase," says James Mulvenon, the director of the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, a Washington, D.C., think tank. With a population of just over 1.3 million, Estonia is one of the most wired countries on earth. Elections, banking, and point-of-sale systems have largely moved to the Web, so cyberattacks such as the one in May can have a profound effect on its commerce.

United States at risk

The United States faces many of the same dangers as Estonia. And with public utilities such as hydro-electric plants and nuclear power plants moving away from proprietary (and more secure) systems toward open-standards-based systems that use common Internet protocols such as TCP/IP to connect to one another, the list of potential targets is increasing.

Attacks on U.S. systems have never been linked directly to state-sponsored cyberwarfare, but in 1999 Chinese hackers took down three U.S. government sites after NATO bombers mistakenly attacked the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

Though identifying adversaries in cyberwarfare is difficult, preparing for computer network attacks involves many of the same steps as preparing for other online threats, according to Gregory Garcia, assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "For our purposes, we really need to focus on reducing our vulnerabilities so those attacks don't happen in the first place," he says.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?