Sample Communications Paper on Cyber security
The affordability of computers and the invention and accessibility of the internet have made the world reliant on computers and computer networks. The reliance has grown so fast, making it virtually impossible to live without computers and related devices, as well as the internet. However, with the growth of the cyberspace, the internet has become a dangerous place: a hideout and avenue for criminal and terrorist activities that threaten individual and national security. It is the realization of the threat that cyber security presents to the nation that the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has a cyber-security division. The division has a task in the assessment of the nation’s cyberspace, ensuring that it is not only stable and safe, but also resilient even in the face of threats from state and non-state actors out to cripple or disrupt the cyberspace and the underlying critical infrastructure.
One of the realities of the current world is the fact that the cyberspace is and will remain to be a driving force in the social, economic and political aspects of daily lives. The reality therefore put the cyberspace at risk of attacks through different avenues meant to exploit vulnerabilities within the cyberspace. As system susceptibility/flaws, vulnerabilities enable actors to exploit systems or networks, thus causing cyber security threats. Cyber security vulnerabilities and attacks include backdoors within computer systems, which when exploited allow attackers to access the system by bypassing set authentication and security control measures. While backdoors are vulnerabilities, methods of attack include denial of service, direct-access attacks, eavesdropping, phishing, spoofing, social engineering, and clickjacking among other forms of attack.
The vulnerabilities in the system and attacks usually target specific systems. However, given that most industries and individuals use computers and networked devices, this means that everyone is at risk. Systems most vulnerable to cyber-security breaches include financial systems, utilities and industrial systems, consumer devices, aviation systems, governments, and corporate systems among others. Financial systems are especially vulnerable to cyber-attacks given the instant financial profit attackers can gain including money transfer, purchases from credit cards, or selling information to the deep web. Any attacks to these systems can have perilous repercussions, including loss of life, integrity and reputation of companies and systems. Moreover, an attack to consumer devices makes one vulnerable to identity theft and implication in crimes one did not commit as attackers collect personal information, which they can use to frame an innocent person.
System attacks through the exploitation of vulnerabilities can have far-reaching consequences on the systems attacked, the corporation or individual attacked. Apart from the loss of integrity and confidence in a system or corporation following a cyber-security breach, there are financial implications, which can run to billions of dollars. According to Hathaway, a computer system security breach in the French bank Societe Generale recently cost the bank $7.2 billion with an additional repercussion of threatening the New York Stock exchange. A threat to the NYSE is a threat to the nation’s securities system, which can have devastating financial repercussions across the nation. Further, whenever information of such attacks reaches the public, there is always a risk of panic within the public. Such panics may cause irrational reactions such as sale of shares, which in addition to threatening the stability of the securities and exchange industry, may also adversely dent the image of the company involved in the security breach.
The cyberspace is an avenue through which terrorists can launch cyber-attacks, crippling critical infrastructure including transport, water, the financial system, and the electric grid; the more reason for DHS’s involvement in cyber security efforts. With this realization, DHS has put measures to ensure cyber security. Through the Office of Infrastructure and Protection (OIP), DHS has two separate divisions the IOP and CS&C (Office of Cybersecurity and Communication) aimed at protecting the physical and virtual infrastructures. OIP task is on securing physical infrastructure, while CS&C focuses on cybersecurity in the virtual world.
In establishing the two divisions, DHS is conducting part of its mandate, following its establishment after the 9/11 attacks. As the first defense against cyber-attacks, DHS’s role in cybersecurity include managing Trusted Internet Connections, development and deployment of intrusion detection and prevention system across the nation, as well as coordination of a wide array of Federal cybersecurity strategies. The roles set forth for DHS at its establishment mean that the department has a major role to play in securing the homeland cyberspace from internal and external attacks and ensuring homeland security.
The proliferation of computers, networked devices and the internet have made communication and access to information easier. Moreover, the reliance on these devices has also made monitoring and controlling of critical infrastructure much easier through automation. However, the reliance on computers and networked devices presents a problem through cyber-attacks, which can have perilous outcomes. Cybersecurity is essential for people across the nation to go about their businesses peacefully and for the nation to run smoothly. Cybersecurity, therefore, is tantamount to national security, and thus the establishment of DHS, with a stipulation of its roles in ensuring cyber and homeland security.
Allen, Charles et al. Cybersecurity & the Department of Homeland Security: Recommendations of the Aspen Homeland Security Group’s Cyber Working Group for the Department of Homeland Security. Virginia: Aspen Institute, 2012.
Hathaway, Melissa E. “Cyber Security: An Economic and National Security Crisis.” Intelligence Journal 16, no. 2 (2008): 31-36.
. Melissa E. Hathaway, “Cyber Security: An Economic and National Security Crisis,” Intelligence Journal 16, no. 2 (2008): 31
. Charles Allen et al. Cybersecurity & the Department of Homeland Security: Recommendations of the Aspen Homeland Security Group’s Cyber Working Group for the Department of Homeland Security, (Virginia: Aspen Institute, 2012), 2
. Ibid, 3
. Melissa, 32
. Ibid, 34
. Charles, 4
. Charles, 2