Digital Conflict

By Kevin Coleman

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Kevin Coleman

Are we nearing cyber DEFCON 1?

A report released in early November by the National Counterintelligence Executive, the agency on point to mitigate the threat of foreign spying on the U.S. government, has created quite a stir.

The report named China and Russia as the top two countries conducting cyber espionage activities that pose an economic threat to the United States.  One intelligence official called China the world's biggest perpetrator of economic espionage, citing the increase of sensitive data theft. The report went on to state that the attacks and resulting exfiltration of  technology and industrial secrets are putting at risk an estimated $398 billion in U.S. research and development spending.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, was very vocal about the testimony and publicly stated that China's cyber espionage efforts are at an “intolerable level.” Other media sources report he went on to call upon the United States and its allies to confront Beijing. Following years of reports that China is behind cyberattacks that have hit government research facilities, universities and the private sector, it appears some on Capitol Hill have reached the boiling point.

The big question that is being asked is what level of confrontation does Rogers have in mind? Are these attacks pushing us closer to the Cyber DEFCON 1 level? No one knows because we still have not defined what constitutes an act of cyber war, nor have we specified how we will measure and establish what we feel is an unacceptable level of impact from these cyber incidents.

Posted by Kevin Coleman on Nov 10, 2011 at 12:54 PM


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