Some eight months ago, we, alongwith other members of the 9/11 Commission, issued a report which identified cyber attacks as one of the deadliest threats facing our country. We did so because every single leader of the Intelligence Community we talked to was extremely worried. One of them told us that, as far as cyber is concerned, it is the day before 9/11. Nobody paid any attention.
Now, thanks to an arguably bad movie, the situation has changed for the better. The attack on Sony pictures by North Korea, leading to the publication of embarrassing emails, was widely reported. Suddenly people became interested, then concerned.
The drumbeat of cyber attacks has increased in magnitude and frequency with the attacks on Home Depot, Target and Anthem. Recently, the president took two major steps forward. First, the White House announced the formation of a new agency, modeled after the National Counterterrorism Center, designed to ensure that the intelligence and homeland security communities are communicating effectively and coordinating their efforts against cyber threats. The president also signed—at the Silicon Valley Summit—an executive order creating new structures for the private sector to share information about cyber threats and attacks with the government.
But we must do more, given the extent of the threat. Our personal data is at risk. Cyber criminals can steal your identity, your money and your personal records; eighty million personal records were taken from the health insurer Anthem alone. Each year, some three hundred billion dollars of research ideas and innovations are stolen. Based on this information, people can copy American products and sell them cheaply, costing America jobs and our technological edge.
Read the rest of the 9/11 Commission Chair and Vice-Chair’s commentary here in the current issue of Homeland Security Today.