Cyberwarfare Threat

October 6, 2017 • Volume 27, Issue 35
Do hackers pose a danger to national security?
By Patrick Marshall


The website of Britain's National Health Service (Cover: AFP/Getty Images/Daniel Leal-Olivas)
The website of Britain's National Health Service notifies users of online problems caused by a global cyberattack that originated in Ukraine earlier this year. The attack hit more than 65 countries, raising new concerns about whether the United States should act more aggressively against cyberattacks that could change election tallies or disable power grids and key military infrastructure. (Cover: AFP/Getty Images/Daniel Leal-Olivas)

The next major conflict between world powers may not begin at sea or along a disputed border, but in cyberspace. In the past decade, hackers have targeted voting systems in the United States, electrical grids in Ukraine, uranium enrichment facilities in Iran and hospitals, universities and major corporations around the world. The attacks have focused new attention on whether the United States is acting quickly enough to protect computer networks serving critical infrastructure, from military bases to power plants. Cybersecurity experts say companies holding sensitive data are particularly vulnerable to digital attacks, such as the recent hack of the Equifax credit reporting agency that potentially affects 145.5 million U.S. consumers. The United Nations is working to develop international rules for cyberwarfare, but the effort faces major hurdles, including deciding how even to define a cyberweapon. Allegations that Russia used social media to disrupt last year's presidential election are another focus of concern as the United States prepares for the 2018 congressional elections.

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
Cold War
Computers and the Internet
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Crime and Law Enforcement
General Defense and National Security
General International Relations
Internet and Social Media
Powers and History of the Presidency
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific
Regional Political Affairs: Russia and the Former Soviet Union