Confronting the Cyber Threat

IntroductionA series of high-profile events in 2010 and 2011 highlighted the increasing and multifaceted threat of cyberattacks. These include the espionage hacks on Google and Western energy companies, the Stuxnet infiltration of Iranian nuclear sites, and the targeting of government networks in South Korea.U.S. cybersecurity policy continues to evolve to meet these challenges, but critical gaps remain, including the incomplete protection of digital infrastructure vital to national security, such as power grids and financial networks. Upon assuming office in 2009, President Barack Obama declared cyberspace a strategic national asset and requested a complete Cyberspace Policy Review. In May 2011, the White House also released its International Strategy for Cyberspace–an attempt to signal to both allies and adversaries what the United States expects and what its plans are in this emerging medium. Current U.S. cybersecurity policy splits responsibilities between the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, with the former managing “dot mil” and the latter “dot gov” domains. Despite these initiatives, U.S. policy still lacks a coherent approach to protecting critical digital assets outside of the government and, in most cases, relies on the voluntary participation of private industry.

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