The U.S. won’t be able to safeguard its vulnerable networks and critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks without including the international community in the endeavor, according to a June report from the Center for a New American Security, an independent and nonpartisan research institution that studies national security.

“Foreign cyber intruders have penetrated America’s power grid, and while their intentions are unclear, the potential for harm is considerable,” wrote authors in a 200-page, two-volume series, America’s Cyber Future: Security and Prosperity in the Information Age.

The literature discloses that Congress and federal agencies are hit with roughly 1.8 billion cyber-attacks monthly.

“It is going to be impossible for the United States to address cyber-security concerns without working with its allies in other countries around the world,” said Kristin Lord, vice president and director of studies at the center. “The threats come globally, so any solution has to be global as well.”

Engaging foreign partners is one of several recommendations for policymakers mentioned in the report. Others include:

  • aiming to keep malicious activity in cyber-space below a threshold by strengthening risk assessment capabilities and creating an information sharing center for agencies;
  • clearly defining in policy what cyber-behavior is or isn’t acceptable;
  • launching a national commission on Internet development that could possibly shape changes to underlying Internet architecture over time; and
  • enhancing government oversight of federal cyber-security developments and protocols in various agencies.

     

On a more direct level, Lord said individual users and agencies can practice good computer hygiene on their own hardware and software. “For state and local IT managers, I think what they should take away this report is: It’s a real threat that has many dimensions and it will affect them,” she said, “and they’re going to have to make some investments in order to address it.”

The report compiles research and assessments of numerous experts and officials in the cyber-security and government arenas. There are more than a dozen papers on various topics authored by security and technology luminaries. Those spearheading the effort included Mike McConnell, former director of the National Security Agency and futurist Peter Schwartz.

“It’s the first report of its kind we’ve one. We won’t do the same thing again, but we’ll continue to do work on national security in the information age,” Lord said.   

Hilton Collins, Staff Writer Hilton Collins  |  GT Staff Writer

By day, Hilton Collins is a staff writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines who covers sustainability, cybersecurity and disaster management issues. By night, he’s a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic, and if he had to choose between comic books, movies, TV shows and novels, he’d have a brain aneurysm. He can be reached at hcollins@govtech.com and on @hiltoncollins on Twitter.