This paper discusses the threat of cyber terrorism on the infrastructure of the United States, and the strategies that the federal government explores to respond to such threats. It is essential to note that cyberterrorism entails the utilization of computer network applications to interrupt or destroy national infrastructures of critical significance such as government operations, transport, energy, air traffic and various other utility systems. According to the arguments of Clarke and Knake (2012), the risk of cyberterrorism continues increasing each day because of one functional premise: the increasing dependence of critical infrastructures and nations computer networks in order to execute their operations. This has resulted into massive creation of new vulnerabilities. Cyberterrorism being a modern approach of attacks, appears appealing to many modern terrorists because of the ‘convenience’ it presents to them. According to Whitman and Mattord (2011), modern terrorists prefer cyberterrorism because of its media appeal, its psychological effect, its capacity to create enormous damage, and its anonymity. Cyberterrorism poses enormous threats and as a result, it grabs the attention of the information technology industry, the community that addresses security, and the mass media. Experts operating in various fields, politicians and journalists have been noted popularizing scenarios where cyberterrorists use electronic means to access computers that control air traffic, dams and many other functional activities. These actions wreak havoc, which endangers the national security together with the lives of millions of citizens.
The threat of cyberterrorism to the American or Critical infrastructures begun being discussed way back in 1997 when the commission of the president presented a report regarding protection of critical infrastructure (Martin, 2014). The concerns of the report majorly centered on the computer systems that were essentially helpful in remotely controlling various process equipment. Such computer systems were highlighted as particular areas of vulnerability. Cyberterrorism poses great dangers on the critical infrastructures of the United State. For a long time, a notion has been existent to suggest that critical infrastructures’ vulnerability and computer networks’ vulnerability are similar. However, considering the modernity in the technology of computer networks and how quick it spreads into activities of economy rules out the notion. The existing evidence suggests that the increasing vulnerabilities of computer networks have become issues of serious concern in business while considering that the enormity of their threat to national security cannot be overemphasized.
It is essential to note that protection of critical infrastructure influences creation of a new set of national security challenges because of involvement of different factors. Cyber-attacks mainly centers its focus on commercial and civilian services and systems (Martin, 2014). The range of such emerging problems depends on the definition of national security as well as the existing thresholds for determining damage. Present at the national level are dozens of various systems offering critical infrastructure services whereby failure can lead to denial of the service to civilians for hours. In order to create terror cyber terrorists have always had to initiate simultaneous attacks on many targets in order to achieve their strategic objectives. Some examples of the famous cyber-attacks happened in 2009 when a sequence of coordinated attacks was witnessed against new agencies and financial websites of South Korean and the US governments where botnet activation was involved (Setola & Lopez, 2012). Many computers were hijacked eventually leading to a scenario called DDoS attack, which essentially means interrupted systems due to overloaded servers.
It is; however, essential to note that the U.S government has put in place a number of measures to enable it respond to the threat of cyber terrorism. The response has been the cyber incident response plan that is centered at the national level. The formation of this plan followed the cyber security policy of the president that called on the coordination of various groups both at the state and at the local level. The plan is essential for helping the Department of Homeland Security manage the response of private industry, international partners, local and state governments, and federal agencies. The establishment of the National Cybersecurity and Communication Integration Center by the Department of Homeland Security in 2009 is another one of the U.S.’s response to cyber threats (Whitman & Mattord, 2011). The United States, through the Department of Homeland Security, responds to cyber threats by ensuring that there are trusted external connections to the internet. This timely response to the threat of cyber terrorism enhances national and global security by minimizing vulnerabilities to computer networks. For instance, the response will help to protect air traffic systems from being interfered with. Without administering appropriate response measures, cyber terrorists can disrupt flights and affect air transport thereby endangering the lives of the crews and passengers.
Canada responds to the threat of cyberterrorism through embracing its cyber security strategy. The strategy provides a vigorous set of reliable legal framework, strategies and legislation to address computer-aided and computer-related terrorism activities and crimes. The strategy depends on synchronized efforts that use crucial elements of international alignment, domestic security sector, and cooperative partnerships like INTERPOL, European Police Office, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Setola & Lopez, 2012). Canada has been successful in securing the government system through its cyber security strategy. The strategy, also, secures the safety of Canadians whenever they undertake their operations online. The strategy reflects on the values of Canada, which touches on privacy, accountability, and the rule of law thereby enabling the government have integrated activities. The cyber security of Canada is established on three pillars: securing the systems of government, collaborating to secure crucial external cyber systems; and enhancing online security of Canadians.
The U.S. National strategy for response to cyber threats differs from the one used in Canada in the sense that it entails a number of priorities. The U.S national strategy encompasses securing cyberspace of the government, a training and awareness program regarding the cybersecurity of the nation, a program for reducing the threat and vulnerability of cyberspace security of the nation, and a response system for enhancing the cyberspace security of the nation (Setola & Lopez, 2012). On the other hand, the cyber security strategy of Canada emphasizes three main priorities: securing the systems of government, collaborating to secure crucial external cyber systems; and enhancing online security of Canadians. Through the cyber security strategy, the Canadian government has been able to able to protect its critical infrastructures from cyber threats. This is evident through development of better governance approaches to enable government enhance cyber security.
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