U.S. warns of cyber threats, both current and future

By Mike Fischer on
Defense Secretary Robert Gates thinks there are "huge" cyber threats looming in our future. According to Defense Department statistics, U.S. networks have faced break-in attempts to steal information from over 100 foreign intelligence organizations. Furthermore, the amount of data stolen every year from hacker attacks could fill the Library of Congress multiple times.

While doom-and-gloom predictions are fairly common in the computer world, this forecast means the possibility of more government involvement in Internet security. Gates stated that future technologies would require "civil-military coordination" to monitor and react to threats, describing a potential security umbrella covering both government and private-sector entities.

Currently the National Security Agency handles threats that originate internationally, but policing attacks from within U.S. boarders would require a domestic version of the NSA -- something Gates says cannot happen given the limitations of money, time, and available talent. But new steps are planned to increase coordination between the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security to cover Internet security threats regardless of origin. "You have the domestic security agency, DHS, being able to reach into NSA in a real-time way to get the kind of protection we need."

While a more secure Internet sounds ideal, expansion of governmental jurisdiction usually leads to concerns of privacy and civil liberty violation. If this sounds familiar, it ties in closely with September's wire tap legislation.

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