Government networks totally vulnerable to cyber attacks

Pierluigi Paganini February 18, 2013

In this days it is circulating persistently the news that The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection act (CISPA) will be reintroduced by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) before the US House next week.

The controversial cyber bill raised an heated debate, the act will force any company to give away all the user’s data it collects if asked by the government and the bill that plan to introduce next week will be identical to the version of CISPA that passed the House last spring.

The decision to repeat the bill has been conditions by recent events on cyber espionage campaign against media agencies such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, or by the cyber attacks against the Federal Reserve systems government departments such as the US Department of Energy.

US authorities are aware on a possible wave of attacks against the infrastructures of the countries,

Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security recently warned that a “cyber 9/11”, which could cripple critical infrastructures such as telecommunication, water, electricity and gas, may be “imminent”. She argued before Congress to pass cyber bill exactly as United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has contemplated the hypothesis in more than one occasion.

“We shouldn’t wait until there is a 9/11 in the cyber world. There are things we can and should be doing right now that, if not prevent, would mitigate the extent of damage,”  Napolitano said.

US governments has understood the destructive power of a cyber attack, equivalent to a conventional military attack, but much more subtle and difficult to identify in time.

A cyberattack could shut down a telecommunication systems or interrupt the financial services, event that could cause the block of vital operation of a country. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers declared that 95 percent of private sector networks are vulnerable, and most have already been hit, a worrying scenarios that reveal the fragility of IT infrastructure of the nation. Rogers was responsible for introducing the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) in November 2011, he confirmed that hackers have increase their pressure on US infrastructures and pointed to China and Iran, considered the most active countries against US.

“They’re taking blueprints back, not just military documents, but civilian innovation that companies are gonna use to create production lines to build things,”

“They’re stealing that, repurposing it back in nations like China, and competing in the international market.” Rogers told CBS that the US government has essentially “set up lawn chairs, told the burglars where the silver is … and opened the case of beer and watched them do it”. Rogers said.

Roger is a deep sustainer of CISPA:

“Share information about threats online,” “The senior leadership in the intelligence community said that they think that we can stop 90 percent of our problems by just sharing classified cyberthreat information.” he said.

The news is not surprising, security has been neglected for too long with devastating consequences, together technological progress has lowered the level of knowledge required to conduct a cyber attack. It’s changed the battlefield, the actors have changed and the access to cyber arsenals has become too easy, in this context it is only a matter of time before a cyber attack can cause serious damage with unpredictable consequences on the civilian population.

An incredible amount of cyber attacks daily hit US networks and their data, with the result that personal information, intellectual property and trade secrets are stolen and most of the time without a culprit is identified.

Targeted by attackers are government agencies, private companies and public utilities, nothing is considerable secure, some row estimation qualify the value of information hacked at up to $US400 billion every year, an impressive figure that led us to understand the weight of the security in an economic context.


As declared in many occasions, many companies are reluctant to admit they’ve been attacked, to keep a competitive edge and avoid loss of reputation, fortunately US governments and also EU states are working to the definition of a cyber bill that oblige victims of data-breach.

Despite US continuously accuses Government of Beijing for cyber attacks, Chinese authorities reply sustaining that China is also targeted by an intense cyber offensive, receiving 13 percent of all cyber attacks on global scale.

China ‘s ambassador to Australia, Chen Yuming, previously told ABC’s:

“There are hundreds of thousands of computers in Chinese government agencies which have been attacked by cyber attackers from overseas sources.”

Cyber security is a shared need, every government has detected an increased number of cyber attacks against its infrastructure, let’s consider the recent data proposed on UK, More than 120,000 cyber-attacks are launched every day against computers in Britain, According security experts the overall 44million attacks a year against English system are estimated to cost the country up to £27billion.

The definition of a proper cyber strategy that must be improved day by day to mitigate cyber threats is became a primary responsibility for any government, for sure works of authorities will impact user’s perception of internet that probably will be very different from that to which we are accustomed, CISPA could be a first step of the dreaded change.

Pierluigi Paganini

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