Cyber Threats to National Security

Cyber Threats to National Security

22:32 01 March in REPORTS & RESEARCH | March 1, 2011


Cyber Threats to National Security

S Y M P O S I U M  F I V E

Keeping the Nation’s Industrial Base Safe From Cyber Threats

This document is intended only as a summary of the personal remarks made by participants at the March 1, 2011 symposium, “Keeping the Nation’s Industrial Base Safe From Cyber Threats,” held at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, D.C., and co-sponsored by CACI International Inc (CACI), the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI), and the Center for Security Policy (CSP). It is published as a public service. It does not necessarily reflect the views of CACI, USNI, CSP, the U.S. government, or their officers and employees. The pro bono Asymmetric Threat symposia series was started in 2008 to contribute to the national discourse on the topic of asymmetric threats facing the United States. CACI and the National Defense University sponsored Symposium One in the series, and CACI and USNI sponsored Symposia Two and Three. With Symposium Four, also sponsored by CACI and USNI, a new Asymmetric Threat series was initiated focusing on Cyber Threats. With new sponsor CSP,“Keeping the Nation’s Industrial Base Safe From Cyber Threats” is the fifth symposium in the Asymmetric Threat series and the second in the Cyber Threat series.

Executive Summary

Shortly after entering office, President Obama unequivocally highlighted the safeguarding of cyberspace as a national security priority. Since then, the administration has cited “significant progress in cybersecurity, ensuring that Americans, our businesses, and our government are building better protections against cyber threats.”1 Recently, the administration released its international strategy for cyberspace, a measure the President described as “the first time that our nation has laid out an approach that unifies our engagement with international partners on the full range of cyber issues.”2 Though noteworthy, these achievements have not abated the persisting imperative to counter cyber threats systematically, comprehensively, and aggressively. This paper examines that imperative through one critical prism: the industrial base.

The lengthening litany of recent cyber attacks against U.S. infrastructure – apparently of hostile origin – exposes the glaring vulnerabilities of this industrial base. The critical research, production, marketing, and distribution engines of America’s economy are at once vitalized by today’s dizzying advances in technology and information sharing – and asymmetrically threatened by often anonymous individual and state actors who ride the same currents to infiltrate increasingly edgeless digital networks from within and without.

The situation is further complicated by many Americans’ idealized notions of cyberspace, as well as the difficulties in promulgating policies and legislation that clearly assign roles and responsibilities to particular government entities and keep pace with the exponentially evolving cyber medium.

 Download to the pdf document: asymmetric_threat_5_paper