The past few months have been dark when it comes to national security. There haven’t been any major bombings or terrorist-related shootings, no hijacked planes, or Americans held hostage. What there have been, however, is a distinctly different yet equally terrifying jump in attacks on the United States – cyber attacks, that is.
For decades, national security experts both in and out of government have warned us of the vulnerabilities in our critical infrastructure to cyber-attacks. They’ve warned us about the threats to the electrical grid, nuclear power plants, water purification sites, and many more. Yet, they have been consistently ignored.
To many past administrations’ credit, they did make cybersecurity a point of emphasis for their national security plan. However, as Jason Healy of Columbia University points out, the budget for cybersecurity is geared towards the Defense Department. The problem with this is that the Department of Defense primarily uses its purview for offensive purposes as opposed to protecting critical infrastructure.
The problem with investing so much in offensive capabilities is it leaves America vulnerable to crippling attacks. Past administrations have thought that having a good offense would deter any possible attacks but that has simply not been the case. Independent actors who are less likely to be deterred by any threats of cyber retaliation are just as plausible to attack as established nations.
Recently, hackers have attacked a critical pipeline that carries gas up the East coast which sent prices skyrocketing, a meat processing facility that provides 20% of the meat in America, health infrastructure in San Diego, and transportation agencies in Massachusetts and New York City.
Robert McMillian of the Wall Street Journal points out that hackers have been more emboldened to attack critical infrastructure as it almost ensures that they will be paid so their services can resume. They aren’t wrong. The government is far behind in protecting these critical pieces of infrastructure using outdated technology to protect essential services. When compromised, as the US has seen, it can cause a variety of problems.
This year it was an oil pipeline and a meat processing plant, but tomorrow it could easily be a power grid or nuclear plant. These are real threats to American lives.
The US needs to divest from almost purely offensive cyber attacks to protecting critical pieces of infrastructure that, if compromised, could cripple the United States. This means updating necessary security measures and taking further steps to prevent any possible attacks. These steps are necessary for protecting American infrastructure and American lives.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.