WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The global online networks that carry people, goods, information and services make the world what it is today. With this growing dependence inevitably comes an increased vulnerability.
A massive interference with global trade, travel, communications and access to databases caused by a worldwide Internet crash would create an unprecedented challenge, particularly if it occurred concurrently with any requirement to deploy U.S. forces, as Madeline Drexler pointed out in her book "Secret Agents: The Menace of Emerging Infections" (John Henry Press, 2001).
Additionally, an attack aimed solely at the United States, similar in scope to the cyberattacks suffered by Estonia in April and May 2007, could severely disrupt the U.S. economy and increase Americans' concerns regarding their vulnerability.
Addressing cyber issues begins with the premise that all national security challenges are a series of actions and counteractions between competitors, and inquiring how these competitions might progress in the future. Looking for single "silver bullet" solutions will not work. There is no technology, government policy, law, treaty or program that can stop the acceleration of competition in the cyber universe.
Accepting this premise -- that an evolving cyber competition is a permanent character of the global environment -- requires responses that offer a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to analysis: looking at the full range of factors that shape and alter the security environment of the future, including social, political, technological and economic trends, as well as dynamic responses that eschew one-time or simple technical fixes to security challenges.
What are required are new strategies of resiliency. Strategies must be national in character and international in scope. Nearly every domestic cyber program -- from managing movement of goods, people, services and ideas to controlling a border to investigating terrorist groups -- requires international cooperation. This dimension of safeguarding the home front is nowhere more important than in addressing national infrastructure, supply-chain issues and public-private partnerships. America is part of a global marketplace with a global industrial base. Virtually no nation is self-sufficient, as James Jay Carafano and Richard Weitz documented in their study, "Enhancing International Collaboration for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism" (Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2078, Oct. 18, 2007, available at www.heritage.org/Research/HomelandDefense/bg2078.cfm).
Efforts to safeguard the U.S. homeland tend to focus solely on the unrealistic task of protecting infrastructure.
(Part 3: Recruiting the experts, seasoned administrators and leaders need to combat the threat.)
(James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is assistant director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies and senior research fellow for national security and homeland security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Davis Institute, at The Heritage Foundation. Eric Sayers is a research assistant in the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation.)
(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)