How well protected are the United States' various systems from cyber attacks? The man in charge of overseeing the nation's Internet and cyber defenses thinks the nation is lacking in that department, giving the US low marks for cyber security.
CNN reports that General Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, was asked to rate how much the US is prepared to deal with such an attack on the nation's infrastructure. Gen. Alexander replied, "From my perspective I'd say around a 3."
Gen Alexander, who made these remarks at a security forum on Thursday, is most worried about systems such as water or power coming under fire from cyber terrorists. He states:
What they could do is destroy parts of our infrastructure like routers, servers, actual end devices that would have to be replaced. And if you do that in such a way, some of the replacement of that would take weeks or months.
Certainly the world has become much more aware that private information can be stolen from online servers via groups such as Anonymous. Indeed, a member of that particular organization claimed to have breached NATO servers in July 2011. However, what Gen. Alexander is worried about are cyber attacks against systems that could take out, for example, power in major cities or military installations.
The good news? Gen. Alexander does believe that things will improve on the cyber security front. He states, "I do think there are government/industry partnerships to help mitigate as many of these vulnerabilities as possible." Let's hope he's right; the world is pretty much dependent on computers and online systems; a coordinated attack designed to bring down whole networks could be devastating.