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Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and former Secretary of Defense William Perry recently stated that the “present cyber risk is shocking and unacceptable. Control system vulnerabilities threaten power plants and the critical infrastructure they support, from dams to hospitals. . . . [and the] threat is only going to get worse.
Inaction is not an acceptable option.” The National Security Agency warned that “[computer] hackers could have the ability to take down the entire U.S. electrical grid within the next two years[.]” This concern echoes across industry sectors including energy, telecommunications, financial services, and health care.
These calls to action are supported by numerous examples of vulnerabilities and attacks on the Internet and information technology in the general commercial sectors (i.e., theft of private data). The financial and competitive implications of cyberattacks cause many to consider them the most important threat to the future of the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation called the threat the “No. 1 concern as foreign hackers . . . penetrate American firms’ computers and steal huge amounts of valuable data and intellectual property.” Although difficult to quantify or identify and easy to downplay, it is fair to say that the threat is real and growing.