Chairman Rockefeller elevates cybersecurity to a major priority — Protecting the cybrastructure

March 19, 2009

The cybrastructure is everything that can be digitally connected to the Internet, and the cybrastructure is increasingly vulnerable to cyber attack from hackers, criminals, terrorists and other bad actors. The exploding growth in people, devices, information, and systems connected to the Internet, naturally creates an exponential increase in vulnerabilities that bad actors can exploit. This makes cybersecurity an increasingly urgent priority.

  • Many think of cybersecurity as protecting users, organizations, computers, devices, and private/sensitive information, but it is much more. More and more, cybersecurity is about protecting critical systems too; our banking, capital markets, and e-payment systems; our electrical grid and utilities; our health care infrastructure; our public safety and military systems; etc. — that all can be accessed or hacked by a wide variety users, organizations, computers, and devices.
  • The cybrastructure now is the vulnerable soft underbelly of our economy and society.

Fortunately, the security and safety of the cybrastructure is finally getting the priority attention it deserves.

  • Today, Chairman Rockefeller of the Senate Commerce Committee said: “It is an understatement that cybersecurity is one of the most important issues we face.” Given the serious distress of the world economy, that is saying something. Chairman Rockefeller said he was not being “alarmist,” but that he knew what he was talking about since he was just previously Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee 2007-2009.
  • Yesterday, at the confirmation hearing for the Commerce Secretary nominee, Gary Locke, Chairman Rockefeller called cybersecurity the “number one threat” to the nation’s security and Mr. Locke agreed that cybersecurity is “obviously of utmost importance” — per coverage by Washington Internet Daily.

Please consider this very surprising question that Chairman Rockefeller pondered publicly yesterday: “It almost makes you ask the question, ‘Would it have been better if we hadn’t invented the Internet?

  • Wow. Why would a widely-respected, seasoned and even-keeled U.S. Senator raise such a provocative question? The obvious answer is that his extensive experience as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee strongly suggests to him that the wide open nature of the Internet creates extremely serious security vulnerabilities that most people don’t even begin to appreciate.
  • Now the excellent question that John Markoff of the New York Times asked in the headline of his very important article: “Do We Need a New Internet?” is not the off-base question that his critics tried to imply, but is dead-on point.
  • It also brings home the chilling assessment of the Internet’s original design made recently by the co-father of the Internet, and Google’s Internet Evangelist, Vint Cerf.
  • “It’s every man for himself,” he says, grinning. “In the end, it seems every machine has to defend itself. The internet was designed that way.”
    In sum, why is the security and safety of the cybrastructure is so critically important now?
  1. In the past cybersecurity was not elevated to a high enough priority.
  2. The explosive growth in people, devices and information connected to the Internet naturally produces an exponential increase in vulnerability points for bad actors to exploit.
  3. Our increasingly universal cybrastructure is arguably more important to protect than any individual infrastructure, because it is the internet’s cybrastructure that ultimately brings all digitally-enabled infrastructures and systems together into one converged omni-system.
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