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The Next War Is Existential, And We’re Entirely Unprepared

Cyber Attack

A devastating cyber-attack occurs in the U.S., which threatens to bring the world to its knees. With the clock ticking, the president disappears …

It may be the plot of The President Is Missing, the recent book by James Patterson, co-authored by former U.S. president Bill Clinton, but it’s merits as reality may be greater than previously thought. In the modern age, experts and intelligence officials have warned that major cyberattacks against the U.S. are inevitable—and imminent.

Last year, almost half of the key infrastructure systems in the United States fell victim to cyberattacks, and many of these systems are woefully unprepared for the eventuality. Businesses and governments alike are using outdated equipment and software.

It is pretty much established that in 2016, Russian operatives hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as part of larger effort to interfere with the U.S. general elections. But it seems that this is just the tip of the cybersecurity iceberg that the U.S. is facing.

State-sponsored computer intrusions increased significantly in the past decade, becoming a more serious threat than traditional espionage. And last year was perhaps a turning point for the worse.

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Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and non-state terrorism all pose a threat to United States, but many experts and officials agree that cybersecurity is a much more pervasive one, not only for states, but for individuals and businesses, too.

Most recently, cybersecurity consultant Tarah Wheeler warned that the bulk of U.S. infrastructure is vulnerable to online threats and stated that it was only a matter of time until a cyberattack of devastating proportions occurs.

"I think that the most horrifying cybersecurity attack is going to have its own name and I think it's going to involve something more terrifying than we've thought of yet," Wheeler said.

Wheeler is far from alone in this fear.

Testifying at a February hearing before the Senate Select Committee, national intelligence director Daniel Coats said the U.S. is already under attack by entities that are using cyber weapons to penetrate virtually every major event that takes place in the United States.

“From U.S. businesses, to the federal government, to state and local governments, the United States is threatened by cyberattacks every day,” Coats said, naming Russia, China, Iran and North Korea as the greatest cyber threats.

The same countries were mapped by the FBI.

The World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Risks Report also names cyberattacks and cyber warfare as a top cause of disruption in the next five years.

Cyber-physical attacks and personal data breaches are on the top of list. The WEF’s report said that industry and critical infrastructure such as power grids and water purification systems could be potential targets for hackers.

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In the second half of last year, almost 40 percent of industrial control systems and critical infrastructure faced a cyber-attack at some point, according to cyber security firm BlueVector.

The United States is “woefully unprepared”, says Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), noting that the government lacks the necessary sense of urgency and doesn’t even have a current cyber warfare doctrine.

“I would argue from a national security standpoint, we may be investing in the best 20th century military money can buy, and we ought to be thinking a lot of the conflict of the 21st century is going to be in cyber and misinformation and disinformation. A reallocation of some of those resources would be worthy of debate.”

By Michael Kern for Safehaven.com

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