February 26, 2010 • Volume 20, Issue 8
Are U.S. military and civilian computer systems safe?
By Patrick Marshall


Flowers from Google supporters decorate the firm's headquarters in Beijing (AFP/Getty Images/Frederic J. Brown)
Flowers from Google supporters decorate the firm's headquarters in Beijing in January after Chinese cyberattackers breached Google computer systems in an effort to steal information and silence human-rights activists. Companies around the world lost an estimated $1 trillion to cyber criminals in 2008. (AFP/Getty Images/Frederic J. Brown)

The recent attacks on Google servers, apparently launched from China, underscore the threat cyberattacks pose to American individuals and businesses as well as to national security. In addition to billions of dollars being stolen by cybercriminals, military secrets and critical civilian infrastructure — including utilities, transportation and finance — also are at risk. Indeed, attempted attacks on Pentagon computers alone number in the tens of thousands each year. The hackers range from international gangs to the agents of other countries. Lawmakers and cybersecurity analysts agree the U.S. is woefully unprepared to deal with the challenge. Civilian and military leaders say they are ramping up defensive efforts, but many experts warn that the measures proposed are inadequate. Some analysts argue that to counter the threat the United States will not only have to spend hundreds of billions of dollars but also fundamentally change the way Americans work with computers and the Internet.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Feb. 28, 2020  Cyberwarfare
Apr. 20, 2018  Technology Addiction
Oct. 06, 2017  Cyberwarfare Threat
Feb. 26, 2016  Virtual Reality
Feb. 12, 2016  Video Games and Learning
Jan. 15, 2016  The Dark Web
Feb. 15, 2013  Improving Cybersecurity
Apr. 13, 2012  Internet Regulation
Sep. 16, 2011  Computer Hacking
Sep. 24, 2010  Impact of the Internet on Thinking
Feb. 26, 2010  Cybersecurity
Aug. 01, 2008  Internet Accuracy
May 02, 2008  Cyberbullying
Jul. 28, 2006  Cyber Socializing
May 12, 2006  Controlling the Internet
Jun. 10, 2005  Identity Theft
Sep. 17, 2004  Cyberpolitics
Sep. 26, 2003  Cybersecurity
Apr. 12, 2002  Cyber-Crime
Oct. 27, 2000  Computers and Medicine
May 26, 2000  Future of Computers
Jan. 28, 2000  The Digital Divide
Feb. 05, 1999  Digital Commerce
Jun. 30, 1995  Regulating the Internet
May 21, 1993  Software Piracy
Sep. 30, 1988  Management's High-Tech Challenge
Jan. 09, 1987  Power Surge in Personal Computers
Feb. 13, 1981  The Computer Age
Nov. 03, 1978  America's Information Boom
Jan. 06, 1978  Computer Crime
May 12, 1971  Reappraisal of Computers
Jul. 25, 1962  Approach to Thinking Machines
Computers and the Internet