Today on a Sunday morning news show two guests talked about some of the greatest threats and vulnerabilities faced by our country. Senator Ron Johnson, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Larry Ellison, the Co-Founder of Oracle both spoke of the threats our country is facing. Senator Johnson spoke about the two greatest threats to our country being homegrown violent extremists and cybersecurity. Not surprising that Senator Johnson stated that regarding cybersecurity “we are incredibly vulnerable.” He further stated that China has been stealing billions of dollars of industrial and military secrets which will impact our military advantage if allowed to continue.
Larry Ellison regarding the cyber threat spoke about criminals stealing credit cards and state actors who want to gain intelligence. A Chinese national was arrested after he used computer malware to gain access to 21.5 million records. Ellison stated that this hack by China got resumes of government employees. Then this state actor analyzed all the information and determined that these are all the people who work for the US government. Then the state actor asked, “How come some people who work in the Embassy in our capital city aren’t in the list of government employees? Maybe they all work for the CIA?” Ellison stated that the Federal government using its “own internal cyber defenses only detects about 2 ½ percent of incidents.” Ellison gave two other examples involving vulnerabilities to include the hacking of Healthcare.gov and the issue of Kaspersky Labs. The US government banned the use of a Russian software security company in government computers due to Russian espionage. Larry Ellison spoke that for years the government didn’t tell anyone of this threat. And this let Kaspersky Labs become an enormous company putting software in people’s computers.
Senator Johnson summed it up stating we are “woefully vulnerable.” In the US we tend to be reactive rather than proactive and there are too many examples of this. What we need is better partnerships and information sharing regarding current and potential threats and vulnerabilities. Without industry, government and citizens working together and closing vulnerabilities we are at risk of losing any competitive advantage we hold in the world. There are numerous state actors to include Russia, and China seeking to gain an advantage by stealing our industrial, economic and military secrets. Nor can we forget criminal actors seeking economic gain by hacking our citizens.