Cyber-Threats, Information Warfare, and Critical Infrastructure Protection: Defending the U.S. Homeland

By Anthony H. Cordesman; Justin G. Cordesman | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

Role of Private Industry

Government is naturally obsessed with itself. The vast majority of critical systems, however, are in the private and civil sectors. Moreover, the technology, software, and information systems used by individual elements of the private and civil sectors are evolving so rapidly and are so specialized that there are severe limits to what government can do to provide day-to-day protection. To put it bluntly, roughly 90 percent of the burden of defense must fall on the user, and the same is true of nearly 100 percent of the burden of day-to-day defense against cyber-crime and hackers.

Many entities already understand this. They are under constant attack, and many of them deploy relatively sophisticated defenses in response. Many, however, do not or have not yet realized the sheer scale of the steadily growing problem they face. Some internalize the problem, concealing losses from law enforcement agencies because of the fear of appearing vulnerable. Others may be under the illusion that a combination of federal action and law enforcement activity can offer more protection than is really feasible. The fact is that any “partnership” between the federal government and the private sector will be acutely limited.

There also are many parts of the private and civil sectors that take a stove-pipe approach to vulnerability and do not consider the impact they have on other elements of the private sector or their full range of vulnerability. Many entities underfund all defense and reconstitution activity

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