Cybersecurity weaknesses could prevent US from waging war

By Lee Kaelin on November 9, 2011, 4:00 PM

A former presidential cybersecurity advisor stated at a conference on Monday that U.S. computer networks are so vulnerable to attack that they should think twice before going to war with other nations.

The shocking claim was made by Richard Clarke, former cybersecurity advisor to three presidents, during the conference joined by a number of U.S. military and civilian experts. According to Clarke, the U.S. military is entirely dependent on computer systems and the seriousness of the problem could result in them entering a battlefield where "nothing works."

Clarke said that if he were the current advisor to the President, he would caution against attacking other countries because a number of them, such as China, North Korea, Iran and Russia, have the capability of launching devastating attacks on the country's infrastructure, destroying power grids, banking networks and transportation systems. "The entire U.S. economic system could be crashed in retaliation ... because we can't defend it today."

"I really don't know to what extent the weapon systems that have been developed over the last 10 years have been penetrated, to what extent the chips are compromised, to what extent the code is compromised," Clarke said. "I can't assure you that as you go to war with a cybersecurity-conscious, cybersecurity-capable enemy that any of our stuff is going to work."

General Keith Alexander, head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command said to the conference crowd that the U.S. needs to start doing a better job of eliminating network vulnerabilities and much more aggressively seek out malware and viruses in corporate, military and government systems.

Clarke added that it was about time the U.S. made it clear to countries like China and Russia that their continued efforts to use cyber-attacks against America would not go unpunished, as they represented a "persistent threat to U.S. economic security." He further added that until there are real consequences for massive espionage, countries like China will still keep stealing.

Last week the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive released a critical report labelling China as its most persistent cyber-attacker, with Russia also present in the list paired with China as the two "most aggressive collectors" of U.S. trade secrets.

User Comments: 16

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Well, that's his job - put a lot of spin on cybersecurity. I don't think you'd hear anything different from anyone else in his position.

chaboi390 said:

He does speak the truth in a sense that if a nation's infrastructure is critically compromised, then its own country is open for an attack.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The US seriously needs to grown some kind of backbone when it comes to this stuff.

"Hey China, you're hacking us."

"No we're not."

"Oh, ok, we apologize for accusing you."

treetops treetops said:

The guy looks like a snake.

Guest said:

"Cybersecurity weaknesses could prevent US from waging war"

Waging WAR, prevented by security weaknesses... and this is a bad thing? How?!

As for all these bogus psy-op worries over "Chinese hackers", note how no one mentions the NSA and how they are in bed with Google already. The NSA has been taken to court over their unlimited access to US citizens' personal data and the result: sorry, you can't know what our ruling is for national security, case dismissed. For godsakes, In-Q-Tel (CIA) seed-funded Google from the beginning. So yes, everyone all together now, we should go and do our best chicken-little impersonation and decry those horrible, mean "Chinese hackers".

A snake? You're not too far off, according to David Icke all the evil and nefarious freaks controlling the invisible worldwide government are lizards.

Snake = Lizard (= Cold-blooded = Evil)

Congratulations, you are correct! You win a fatal automobile accident or an exploding computer ala 9/11-Pentagon.

Win7Dev said:

Guest said:

" no one mentions the NSA and how they are in bed with Google already.

And there's the scariest thing of all, no matter what country your from. If google's data centers were "compromised", imagine the processing power at someone's disposal. Think what would happen if google signed a contract with a government to borrow some servers for just one day.

DokkRokken said:

Oops I thought I was at TechSpot, not TinFoilSpot.

princeton princeton said:

Thanks for letting us know. Now we'll wait for the news of large scale attacks against the US after countries were informed that the US has no way to defend themselves in the event of disruption of their computer systems.

Ok joking aside this is definitely an issue they need to find a way too resolve.

Guest said:

oh noes the USA cannot attack countries anymore, Wall Street won't like that :/

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:


You forgot to include armed industrial complex (incidentally, which heavily funds not only politicians but ensures that any serving officer who 'serves' their interests will also be given a fair share of this big pie) ....

fimbles fimbles said:

Im pretty sure there will still be a manual overide on these systems.

Set egg timer, apply voltage, big boom!

Guest said:

Has anyone else noticed the rising amount of cyber-security related articles (how china is such a big threat to US, but no hard evidence exists) that are going around lately?

If I was paranoid I could say that all this is fueled by USA's propaganda machine.

Stop posting this crap plx.

Tomorrow_Rains said:

Oh no!

They're going to be able to monitor which websites i visit!! oh wait, thats already being done by my isp.

Ladie and Gentlemen Adjust your tinfoil hats.

Mindwraith said:

maybe this will make America think twice before attacking another nation

Guest said:

Not to mention whatever that virus was that is on military computers (and still is I think). The same computers that control drones that spy on people and can be armed with missiles. oops. Last I heard they did not think it was problem because it does not seem to target drones. What happens when some military personal goes rogue? "Here's the program(s) we use to control the drones so go ahead and reverse engineer it for your exploiting pleasure." BOOM *missile from drone blows up w.e the attacker wants. Hell, if the virus or worm is part of a botnet, the one controlling it most likely already knows what program(s) they use to control the drones. Awesome.

Guest said:

Okay so wait, this will stop the US from attacking other nations right? So I don't see the down side...

Majority of people living on earth are not in USA so yeah, this is a good thing for majority of people, You get my point right?

China and Russia Rocks

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