The term “cyberattack” or cyberwarfare is defined as “politically motivated hacking to conduct sabotage and espionage. It is a form of information warfare sometimes seen as analogous to conventional warfare although this analogy is controversial for both its accuracy and its political motivation.”

“Weapons of Mass Disruption” are a growing concern. The U.S. and many other countries are electrically and digitally dependent. Our critical infrastructures, including drinking water, sewer systems, phone lines, banks, air traffic, and government systems, all depend on the electric grid. After a major successful attack we’d be back to the dark ages instantly. No electricity, no computers, no gasoline, no refrigeration, no clean water. Think about when the power goes out in your house for a few hours. We’re stymied.

The New York Times reports “Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned Thursday that the United States was facing the possibility of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor” and was increasingly vulnerable to foreign computer hackers who could dismantle the nation’s power grid, transportation system, financial networks and government.”

The threats of a cyberattack are real. Unfortunately tis is one of those “it’s not IF but WHEN” scenarios.

The AP reports “President Barack Obama wants owners and operators of essential U.S. infrastructure to meet minimum cybersecurity standards that the private sector and federal agencies would develop together.”And “Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says within his first 100 days in office he would order all federal agencies to develop a national strategy to deter and defend the country from cyberattacks.”

Whomever is elected president will face an unknown unseen digital enemy unlike any other president has seen in history.

Think before you click. Know who’s on the other side of that instant message. What you say or do in cyberspace stays in cyberspace — for many to see, steal and use against you or your government.

The Internet is incredibly powerful tool that must be used intelligently and cautiously. Do your part to protect your little network and we will all be that much safer.

Use antivirus software, spyware removal, parental controls and firewalls.

Back up your data locally and in the cloud.

Understand the risks associated with the wireless web especially when using unsecured public networks.

Protect your identity too. The most valuable resource you have is your good name. Allowing anyone to pose as you and let them damage your reputation is almost facilitating a crime. Nobody will protect you, except you.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto. Disclosures

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