These days, it seems like every time you turn on the news you hear about another cyber attack on a government database in the United States. With technology evolving every day, it’s not easy for government to keep up with mounting cyber threats, and frankly it seems like they are always one step behind. Whether cyber attackers are infiltrating infrastructure to gain information, cause damage, or just to demonstrate how easy it is to mount an attack, these events are creating a legitimate fear among the American people that our information is not safe and that our government needs to do something to stop these threats.
Today, many of our daily transactions are conducted online, whether we are purchasing goods, doing our banking, or filling out applications that require personal information. Even when we receive assurances that our data is safe, new hacks happen every day to both government departments and private corporations, undermining our trust in cyber security. The question is no longer if a data breach will happen, but when will it happen?
Federal, state and local governments are very much aware of our vulnerabilities and are working hard to find a way to put a stop to cyber attacks. The Department of Homeland Security spends a great deal of time and money trying to protect our personal information, but they acknowledge that securing cyber space is no easy feat, as there isn’t one simple way to reduce the risk of a variety of possible attacks.
In a research document published in 2015, the Department of Homeland Security said:
Cyberspace is particularly difficult to secure due to a number of factors: the ability of malicious actors to operate from anywhere in the world, the linkages between cyberspace and physical systems, and the difficulty of reducing vulnerabilities and consequences in complex cyber networks. Of growing concern is the cyber threat to critical infrastructure, which is increasingly subject to sophisticated cyber intrusions that pose new risks. As information technology becomes increasingly integrated with physical infrastructure operations, there is increased risk for wide scale or high-consequence events that could cause harm or disrupt services upon which our economy and the daily lives of millions of Americans depend. In light of the risk and potential consequences of cyber events, strengthening the security and resilience of cyberspace has become an important homeland security mission.[i]
DHS has come to realize they do not have the resources to protect the nation’s virtual infrastructure on their own. Accordingly, they and other government departments have been hiring outside companies to help prevent these attacks and secure critical infrastructure. In 2013, DHS awarded $6 billion in contracts to 17 companies that have been tasked with assisting government agencies protect themselves from cyber security threats. Companies including IBM, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Corporation won some of these important contracts.[ii] In the aftermath of a massive cyber attack that occurred in June of 2015, you will likely hear about more federal agencies soliciting for cyber security products and services, with the goal of protecting American assets and sensitive personal information in the virtual realm.
Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com