Clegg: Modern warfare

BY CHRIS CLEGG | JULY 15, 2015 5:00 AM

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The power of the Internet, and the various different technologies that can be associated with its rise, has undoubtedly contributed to a more integrated global populous and shaped the world to something no one would have thought conceivable just 25 years ago. As ideal as the worldwide web can be, and as easy as it has made daily activities, such as finding directions or figuring out when something closes, it is also important to realize the legitimate threats that it can carry. 

In December 2013, Target found this out the hard way when it revealed that credit- and debit-card information of some 40 million of its customers had been compromised because of a data breach by an unknown hacker. According to a March 2014 Bloomberg News report, the estimated hit that Target took was a cool $60 million, while net expenses in dealing with the issue were predicted to be close to $1 billion. 

A year later, Sony, experienced the same thing with loads of personal data being stolen and even threats combined with ransom made by the cyber criminals.

And finally, in both June and July, the Office of Personnel Management, the agency tasked with conducting background checks on millions of employees for federal employment and security clearances, was the latest victim of two cyber attacks that resulted in the loss of “… addresses, health and financial history, and other private details, from 19.7 million people who had been subjected to a government background check, as well as 1.8 million others, including their spouses and friends” according to the New York Times

These examples are simply a microcosm of the dangers that our digital age creates; almost everyone has heard of some twisted form of cyber-bullying, and parents have even recently turned to viral videos to publically humiliate children. 

So, while bloody conflicts such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan have showed us that some wars are very much still fought with bullets and advanced weaponry, the anecdotes above demonstrate how new types of warfare are starting to emerge as a product of the time that we live in. The reason that the latter is so threatening is because these types of wars don’t require an invasion of American soil or a physical attack on American property to be dangerous.

Instead, the enemies are sitting at a desk, sometimes thousands of miles away, with the ability to move like a ghost, wreaking havoc among the various highly integrated American systems pertaining to both the general public and national government.

The scariest part of all this is how vulnerable we are. Not only, apparently, do hackers have the ability to infiltrate some of the biggest corporations in the world, but they can also prey on government-protected information. Further, The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report earlier this month detailing how “… 19 of 24 major agencies [declared] cyber security as a significant deficiency or material weakness for financial-reporting purposes.” 

Therefore, as cyber attacks become more and more imminent, which, according to the same report as mentioned above, they have, the Obama administration and presidents to follow will need to focus on digitally protecting both the American private sector for the sake of the economy as well as the American public for the sake of national security.

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