Security threats to government and the private sector are pervasive and increasingly sophisticated, putting the U.S. private sector and federal, state and local governments at the front line of this open, yet invisible battlefield. President Obama has identified cybersecurity as one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation. To that end he instituted The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative with one of the major tenets being support of cybersecurity through public/private partnerships.
We all need to understand the immense economic impact of cybersecurity and how cybercrimes impact law enforcement resources; recognizing that most cases are going unresolved. According to Symantec, a leading provider of Internet security products, cybercrime cost victims $388 billion in time and money in 2011 alone, hitting 431 million people in over 24 countries. That number is rising steadily; the 54% of online adults who were victims of computer virus or malware attacks in 2012 is up from 51% in 2011. Additionally, attacks against mobile devices are soaring as well; findings show that 42% more smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices were targeted for malware attacks in 2011, compared with 2009. This is a clear indication that cybercrime is on the rise and must be addressed before it is too late. Although the financial impact of cyber criminal activity cannot be completely quantified, the Whitehouse issued the Cyber Security Policy Review that profiled the systemic loss of U.S. economic value from intellectual property and data theft alone in 2008 as high as $1 trillion. Cyber terrorism is also a real and emerging threat in the homeland security arena, a threat that is gaining momentum daily. There are ever increasing groups and organizations that are willing to provide destructive services to the highest bidder. A small country or group with limited backing could potentially acquire a cyber-weapon, deploy it and cripple private sector controlled power generation, release deadly chemicals through an attack to our chemical industry, present a nuclear threat by exposing vulnerabilities in nuclear power plants, infect our financial systems to the point of rendering them unreliable, and/or impact our military capabilities.
The specter of a potential attack coupled with the increased incidents in hacking have resulted in the creation of new policies, sections, and centers within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Defense (DOD), the FBI, and others units so that we can prepare for, prevent, and mitigate attacks on the U.S. and its interests. The White House has issued two policy papers, the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and the International Strategy for Cyberspace. These policy papers stress the need for partnerships and strongly advocate for public/private collaboration. All parties recognize that to be successful it is necessary to establish effective communication and collaboration between all involved entities; this requires direct coordination among all forms of government and the private sector.