Wednesday, December 9, 2015

CSIS President Has Warned of Cyber Pearl Harbor Since 90's

Dr. John Hamre, President and CEO of the Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), is warning of a cyber Pearl Harbor, saying that hostile foreign intelligence and militaries are prepared to wage war now.  Here is more from Dr. Hamre, who reflects on the term he had used for nearly two decades:
In November 1997 I was asked to testify at a Senate hearing concerning the growing worry about cybersecurity. At the time, I was deputy secretary of the Defense Department, and that hearing followed an unexplained electricity blackout in San Francisco that left 125,000 people in the dark for a day. Fears were rising that malicious hackers had somehow taken down the grid. I warned the Senate that America was facing the prospect of an “electronic Pearl Harbor.” 
The phrase became a touchstone in the long national argument over cybersecurity, for better or worse. I was not the author of the phrase. That honor goes to a dear friend of mine, retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Tom Marsh, who had just led a national commission looking at cyber vulnerabilities. Tom came to my office to summarize the findings and used the Pearl Harbor metaphor.
I don’t regret using the Pearl Harbor analogy, but in retrospect it was a mistake to use the analogy when I did. We used the vocabulary of war, because that was what we do at the Defense Department. But for most Americans, war is the Pentagon’s business, not theirs.  Ninety-nine percent of American cyberspace is in the private sector, and at the time, the war metaphor didn’t connect. In fact, it backfired: It earned me notoriety as a demon in progressive left, cyber-libertarian circles. But it didn’t mobilize the national awareness of the peril we were in.

The full piece in Politico can be read here.  And here is a piece from 1997 documenting Hamre's comments on an electronic Pearl Harbor when he was at the Department of Defense.

Here is a recent Think Tank Watch piece on why reading think tank reports can actually harm your company.  It notes that a number of think tanks have been victims of numerous cyber attacks.