The United States may be one of the world's superpowers when it comes to cyber warfare, but other nations are catching up -- ready and willing to attack the US and its interests from a computer afar.
Approximately 60 other nation-states are presently developing their own advanced cyber warfare programs. And, this figure that does not include rogue terrorist and cyber criminal groups.
Given the fact that businesses as well as government agencies can be targets of cyberwar attacks, the issues is one that enterprise IT leaders and security professionals would do well to watch closely.
Many of these nations tolerate or even outright ally themselves with cyber criminals – so long as it means protecting their own interests while harming their foes in the West.
The threat of cyberwar goes far beyond the Sony hack and determining what movies Hollywood will release and when. Hackers possess unprecedented ability to cripple America's infrastructure and its economy -- which could have devastating effects.
Delivering the opening remarks at the Advanced Cyber Security Center's annual conference earlier this year, Ken Montgomery, COO and first vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, announced, "If [the Fed's role as a service provider] was ever disrupted, we would see a global credit crisis in eight hours' time."
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff agreed, relating in his keynote address at the event: "Those of us who lived through 2008 ... realized how fragile our financial system is."
And the cyberthreat to the American economy posed by foreign nation-states, Chertoff warned, is very real.
"Some people have said ... 'Well, we don't have to worry about that because even if the capability is there, it's not going to be [used] to destroy our financial system, because they participate in it,'" said Chertoff, who countered this argument simply by pointing out, inter alia, the fact that economic sanctions against America's adversaries exist.
On the following pages we present five nation-states that represent major cyberthreats to the interests of the US and its allies. The big question, however, is what threats might be added to this list in, say, a year's time. Give us your thoughts in the comments section below, and let us know where you think America's biggest cyberwar threat lies.
Joe Stanganelli is founder and principal of Beacon Hill Law, a Boston-based general practice law firm. His expertise on legal topics has been sought for several major publications, including US News and World Report and Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine. Joe is also ... View Full Bio
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