In anticipation of security firm Mandiant’s report detailing over six years of Chinese hacking espionage, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded to questions that the U.S.’s measures may not be working by…reaffirming those same measures:
“I can tell you that we have repeatedly raised our concerns at the highest levels about cyber theft with senior Chinese officials, including in the military, and we will continue to do so.”
This isn’t the first time Obama’s administration has taken the path of passivism when dealing with foreign affairs. The Benghazi crisis and current dealings with North Korea immediately spring to mind.
But this isn’t about dealing with threats. Multiple attacks have been launched against America. If China conducted a military invasion, the country would be at war right now. Why isn’t more being done?
Simply put, American’s don’t view cyber-attacks as a major threat. Two weeks ago, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave a speech to Georgetown University, warning students about the potential threat of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor”. Panetta has received a lot of criticism for this statement over the years, but if Mandiant’s report is any indication “cyber-Pearl Harbor” isn’t too far off.
Hacking isn’t just an issue that occurs among private corporations; nearly every government institution has been penetrated to some degree. Security experts told The Washington Post that “[t]he list of those hacked in recent years includes law firms, think tanks, news organizations, human rights groups, contractors, congressional offices, embassies and federal agencies.”
But those same experts aren’t worried about the data hackers continue to steal. Thomas Fingar, a China expert and former chairman of the National Intelligence Council had this to say:
“Most of us aren’t very interesting most of the time. You can waste an enormous amount of time and effort puzzling over something that is totally meaningless.”
As meaningless as this data might be, if China or other countries for that matter have the capability to hack into America’s federal agencies, what’s preventing them from hacking into power grids? The resulting chaos would be detrimental to America’s infrastructure. The U.S.’s dependence on computers has increased significantly over recent years, but net security continues to lag behind.
If the government is unable to provide necessary parameters to prevent future threats, lawmakers should look towards privatized companies such as CrowdStrike and Mandiant, to provide security.
"The government doesn't have the capacity," said Shawn Henry, a former FBI executive assistant director who works for a Mandiant competitor, CrowdStrike. "There are a lot of people working hard. But the structures aren't there."