Academic journal article Pepperdine Policy Review

The Rising Digital Missile Gap: The Security Threat of the United States' Cyber Inactivity

Academic journal article Pepperdine Policy Review

The Rising Digital Missile Gap: The Security Threat of the United States' Cyber Inactivity

Article excerpt

In 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy campaigned on the issue that under the watch of President Eisenhower, a missile gap had develop between the United States and the Soviet Union. The fear of nuclear war was a grim reality, which most politicians and citizens alike understood the dire consequences. Policymakers witnessed the devastation of atomic weapons in the wake of World War ?. The vaporization of two Japanese cities, awoken the world to the power of nuclear weapons. In efforts to prevent the duplications of these disasters, policymakers committed themselves to the mastery of space, international treaties, and the development of defensive measures and alert systems. While the threat of nuclear weapons is far from over, policy makers understood the severity of these weapons, the consequences of their use, and worked to prevent annihilation. The arms race was a key component of the deterrence strategy which defined defense policy in that era. It rested on the principle that the Soviet Union should not develop technological superiority over the United States. The belief was that should a missile gap develop and the Soviet Union was to gain more weapons then the United States, America would be doomed in nuclear holocaust. A competing viewpoint was held by the Soviet Union which feared the American's nuclear superiority as well.

We stand at the threshold of developing a new arms race ~ one represented no longer by a gap of nuclear warheads, but a gap in digital supremacy. The world is evolving into a dangerous new world, with stakes higher than ever. Perhaps since policymakers have never witnessed the devastation of a large scale cyber-attack, they do not truly understand the serious threat which a cyber-attack presents. The United States' failure both to dominate the electro- magnetic spectrum for military purposes, the failure to secure our digital infrastructure, in wake of the rapid cyber development of other nations, presents the most immediate threat to national security. We are only as safe as we allow ourselves to be, and we need to act quickly to begin removing the vulnerabilities within our computer systems. It only takes one successful hacker, to end the way of life in America we know. The National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile, is attacked nearly 10 million times a day (Koebler, 2012). In an ever grimmer reality, one successful attack could end all life on earth. Is this a risk we are willing to take? National Security depends upon cyber-security.

One of the best examples of this of the threats of society comes from August 2008, during the South Ossetia war between Russia and Georgia. During the military campaign in Georgia, Russian naval hackers methodically launched cyber-attacks on Georgia (Bukkvol, 2009). These hackers destroyed Georgian internet servers crippling and disrupting communication throughout Georgia (Walsh, 2009). The Georgian government could not match the technical superiority of Russia, and was forced to rely upon Estonia and Poland for technical assistance (Markoff, 2008). The Russian Naval hackers then infiltrated the Georgian Power grid; block by block they powered down cities as Russian ground forces moved in for occupation.

Russia is not the only nation to demonstrate such capabilities. The United States began flexing its own cyber-muscle during the Bush Administration. Late in 2007, the National Security Agency (NS A) launched one of the largest and most successful cyber-attacks to date (Harris, 2009). The NSA attacked cell phones and computers that counter insurgents in Iraq were using to plan and coordinate roadside bombings (Harris, 2009). This operation was not only a successful military strike on enemy forces, but it was successfully achieved without risking the safety of American personnel.

While cyber- warfare is still secondary to traditional warfare, there are graver threats lurking in cyberspace. Cyber-spying is one of these prominent threats. …

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