As reported by recent news headlines, the United States is facing an increased number of cyber attacks against its critical government and private sector infrastructure, two of the most recent being against the White House (in October 2014 and again in early April). Besides targeting government and defense systems, hackers from around the world — in particular from Russia and China, have been said to have breached U.S. financial and banking firms, power and water infrastructure, and even vital space assets.

The U.S. government understands how big the threat really is. In an outgoing letter to her successor, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned of an impending “serious” cyber attack and potential natural disaster worse than Hurricane Katrina.”Many things still need tending, and my successor will most certainly have a full plate on his or her hands,” she said, adding that she faced “many challenges” over the past four years. In their 2010 book Cyber War, cyber warfare expert Richard A. Clarke and international affairs expert Robert K. Knake noted that both public and private cyber systems were vulnerable to attack, largely because there was no coordination between the federal government and private telecoms to shore up security. CONTINUE