WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- The Cyber Warfare and Security Summit in Washington will focus on setting targets that could advance defense safeguards and get tough on hackers from overseas, especially of the foreign government-sponsored variety.
Recent cybercrime incidents have confirmed suspicions in Washington that foreign hacking into public and private sector networks in the United States and other industrial countries is often inspired by hostile governments.
Pentagon officials involved with defense against Internet crime were cited in security briefs that concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war and justify preventive or retaliatory action deploying traditional military force.
Major cyberattacks have been blamed on Chinese hackers and both Israel and Russia were mentioned in computer attacks on regional rivals.
The Cyber Warfare and Security Summit, set for June 27-29, has been organized by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement, which describes itself as a non-partisan, information-based organization dedicated to the promotion of innovative ideas in public service and defense.
Cyberterrorism and cyberthreats in general are regarded in the security industry as a major business growth area with the potential for drawing both government and private organizations into multibillion-dollar partnerships anchored on the perceived threat.
Impetus for multilevel action against cyberthreats gained strength after the Obama administration launched its cybersecurity awareness program in 2009 on the back of the annual October event set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
IDGA said the current response springs from the evolution of information technology, until a few years ago a support function at the Pentagon, to "a strategic element of power in its own right."
It said any major future conflict will almost certainly involve cyberwarfare and will affect all aspects of society, not just the military.
"Defending against and defeating cyberattacks requires combined efforts from public and private sectors, working to develop new technologies and approaches for maintaining real-time protection of their individual networks," said IDGA, reflecting a prevailing industry view that what appeared to be a niche market is now big business worldwide.
The organizer has said senior military personnel, corporate leaders and academics will attend the discussions.
Moves are afoot also to internalize concern and involve decision-makers in other industrial countries in joint action and coordinated framing of strategies for defense and prevention.
"It's time to prepare for tomorrow's fight today," said Nicole Bacani, program director for the summit.
Already there is mention of cyberthreats as an emerging Pentagon doctrine that will look at both defensive and offensive information warfare systems at tactical, operational and strategic levels.
Analysts said an immediate challenge faced by both government and business sectors was how and where to find the money for embarking on ambitious and increasingly expensive cybersecurity programs.