One of the most crucial roles of the U.S. government is security. As the United States has grown and become a super power that role also expanded. Today, security extends far past the borders of the country.
The Internet has created an entirely new landscape that has to be defended from cyber hackers and criminals. It’s a unique issue in the fact that the information and tools we keep online could be used against us. Worse still is that it can happen without anyone realizing until it’s too late.
As systems migrate to more secure technology, the top concern is cloud security. Government officials have stated that while simple, low-risk systems such as email have moved to more efficient cloud-based systems, others are still in limbo while the details get ironed out.
One small security gap in the virtual networks could have a huge impact on the entire world. Security breaches are already happening, which means the race is on to stay one step ahead of people trying to create havoc by hacking into government networks.
Millions of Stolen Identities
One of the most recent and largest attacks on U.S. government networks began a few years ago. Hackers were able to infiltrate the Office of Personnel’s systems and steal information for millions of employees and contractors. This went undetected for some time. Just a few months ago, the hackers released personal information for thousands of FBI and Department of Homeland Security employees.
Needless to say, this could put people’s safety at risk. And it certainly puts their financial well-being at risk.
How did this hacker(s) obtain the protected information? Through a compromised email account. This one small security gap of unsophisticated means has impacted millions of people.
Part of the information stored online involves new weaponry and artillery from the U.S. military. It’s information virtually every other country would want to see because the most advanced technology wins wars.
Several years ago China made it known that they planned to build an air force of their own. A confidential report from the Pentagon suggests they are doing so with the help of Chinese hackers. In 2013 Chinese cyber spies were able to steal information on dozens of advanced weapons systems, including fighter jets.
It was noted at the time that this security breach would likely accelerate China’s development of weapons, weaken the U.S.’s military advantage and cost millions, if not billions, of dollars to reimagine the systems.
Perhaps the biggest safety concern is the possibility of weapon controls being disabled or overtaken. Many U.S. military devices from drones to missiles can be controlled remotely. Should hackers get into these systems it could cause a disaster of huge magnitude.
One reason nuclear proliferation is such a hot button issue today is concern over powerful weapons getting into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, hackers may never need to actually get their hands on weapons to use them. Here again, the concern is largely over Chinese hackers that appear to have government support.
Far above the Earth, satellites control a wide variety of vital communication and information systems. From the National Weather Service to trucking routes, satellites feed data to government agencies on the ground.
Last year the World Teleport Association (WTA) noted that cyber security was a growing concern for the satellite industry. These satellites are controlled through computers with networks that can be hacked. The three top threats include malware, targeted attacks, and denial of service (DoS). In essence, hackers could completely shut down satellite feeds, throwing everything from communication to GPS systems into disarray.
Recent reports show that the U.S. government’s cyber security is below that of every other major industry. The issue is widespread across the local, state and federal government. SecurityScorecard notes that between April 2015 and April 2016 there were at least 35 major breaches of government networks. Clearly, cyber security is an issue that must be addressed quickly and efficiently for the sake of all Americans.