Cyberspace and Cybersecurity – The New Battlegrounds

There have been many postings on this website to address the subject of both cyberspace and cybersecurity and the potential threat it poses to organizations and individuals.

Unfortunately, our staff of writers continues to encounter a lack of serious attention paid to this cyber threat on a small and mid-sized enterprise (SME) level.  It appears that until a major disruption or incident actually happens to such organizations, this form of threat does not become a real priority for upper management to properly evaluate as a potential risk to that organization, and then properly mitigate as a real risk against that organization.  We believe the large global enterprise level of organizations and governments understand this concern but more awareness and preventive actions are required by those SME companies — and more effort should be made to incorporate this risk analysis effort by those in-house individuals responsible for internal  business continuity planning, preparedness and risk management activities.

At times, organizations do have to look at other resources to help them better define their risk assessment strategies in this cyberspace area.  It is with this in mind, that we point our readers to a recent article written by Senator Susan Collins and posted as a press release on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs website.

In this article Senator Collins points out very clearly that cyberspace and cybersecurity related dangers pose serious threats to all of us. Hackers could attack critical civilian infrastructures, such as electrical grids, transportation systems, and communications, affecting whole communities. The Senator also states that our military assets are at risk, too. In fact, military officials now describe cyberspace as the fifth domain of war — following land, sea, air, and space. They note that cyberspace is unique because it is the only battlefield to be invented by humans.

The article also asserts that in February, Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, gave this chilling account before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: “The national security of the United States, our economic prosperity and the daily functioning of our government are dependent on a dynamic public and private information infrastructure, which includes telecommunications, computer networks and systems and the information residing within. This critical infrastructure is severely threatened.” Cyberspace, he said, “is exponentially expanding our ability to create and share knowledge, but it is also enabling those who would steal, corrupt, harm or destroy the public and private assets vital to our national interests.”

How vulnerable does our government think we are? Consider these statistics from the Senate’s Sergeant-at-Arms Office, which found that Congress and other government agencies are under a cyber attack an average of 1.8 billion times a month, compared with an average of 8 million times a month in 2008.

The Senate Security Operations Center alone receives 13.9 million of those attempts per day.

We operate in an escalating attack environment in which threats to our information infrastructure are increasing in both frequency and sophistication,” said Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer in testimony before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee in March. “Our raw numbers bear this out, so we must remain on guard.”

More gathered data from ongoing survey efforts now seems to be raising a more urgent alarm for SME’s to recognize this cyberspace and cybersecurity risk as a real threat to them too – not only to itself as an organization, but more importantly, to its suppliers, employees, customers and communities which are the foundation of its very existence.

Click here  to read about additional findings revealed by Senator Collins.

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