Cyber-Citizen, USA Cyber-Citizen USA the Debate Research Paper

Pages: 20 (5130 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Terrorism

Cyber-Citizen, USA

Cyber-citizen USA

The debate over systems security

"If you see something, say something," the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) promotes the use of internet communications to warn of potential threats to national security. Targeting technologically savvy young adults, the DHS attention to domestic terrorism has increased precipitously since the events of 9/11, when the overall attention to the scope of terrorism internationally resulted in a number of strategic commissions to transform security risks into manageable operations. Cyberterrorism according to the National Strategy for Securing Cyberspace, 2003 offers recommendation to protection of critical infrastructure where industrial computer control networks monitoring energy may be vulnerable. The foregoing essay looks at the convergence of public and private efforts in counter terrorism, and particularly in the sphere of domestic hacker cyberterrorism which is now the provenance of even our smallest citizens.

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In the field of Criminal Justice, perhaps nowhere outside of Philosophy, are ethical protocol to decision making more relevant to the constitution of law. Inequitable access to resources and political representation has created a vacuum for power that has many effects, including the unfortunate devolution of economies and lives in response to war. An outgrowth of tyranny abroad, war has a tendency to promote extraordinary response by those who think they have unwittingly received the short end of the deal. High profile in circumstance, international terrorism has become one of the most studied criminal activities in the decade following the 9/11 incident in the United States, and in related events such as the London Bombings of 2004 in the UK, and elsewhere abroad.

Military professionals note that cyberspace is a unique environment in their pursuits, as missions now include the geography that is borderless, and provision against attacks must be equally as asymmetric and clandestine, as attackers have a virtually unlimited range and speed in timing in potential execution of assault on key national infrastructure. According to Col. (S) Bradley K. Ashley, USAF (2004), with cyber-terror, "massive results can be achieved without massing forces" as such attacks are "fast, easy and relatively inexpensive" (Ashley, 2004). Noted within Ashley's discussion is the number of conflicts that now have cyberspace dimensions. U.S. troops now employ hackers to engage in official military incursions online.

The theatre of war is not the only site where hackers threaten U.S. national interests through violation of key infrastructure architecture, however. As Ashley points out, "in 1998, a 12-year-old hacker broke into the SCADA computer systems that run Arizona's Roosevelt Dam" resulting in complete loss of federal control of the dam's massive floodgates (Ashley, 2004). While intentional in pursuit, hacking by a twelve-year-old U.S. citizen does not constitute "organized terrorism," and the intentionality of his mens rea in court proceedings will obviously be negligible due to minor status, the prevalence of cyber-terrorism as an "everyman" activity is made readily apparent. The dam mentioned in Col. Ashley's account, held up to 489 trillion gallons of water back from a flood plain inhabited by more than a million people. The story concludes with the citation of the use of "more than 3 million SCADA devices" to control systems monitoring and distribution in the United States today (Ashley, 2004).

The case of the twelve-year-old boy illustrates the common place nature of the crime of cyber-terrorism in the everyday activities of American companies as they work toward risk mitigation and energy resource control. How terrorism fits into the larger picture of the U.S. war on terror is discussed throughout the foregoing discussion, with four (4) objectives underlying analysis of the historical response to terror: 1) What the current policy is regarding the tracking of potential suspects in the war against terrorism?; 2) How we should weigh the fears of terrorism and desire for national security against civil liberties and individual rights?; 3) What is the just response to terrorism?; and 4) Should those who commit lethal acts of terrorism for political or religious causes receive the death penalty?

The ethical precepts to the discussion are never absent from the minds of military and other government staff assigned to the role of protection. As Ashley aptly proffers on the psychology of terror,

"in an asymmetric world, terrorists look for alternative methods to spread terror. The cyberworld may prove to be the simplest and quickest alternative to traditional physical attacks. The motives of cyberterrorists in this realm likely will be the same as those that incite physical attack. They generally seek financial gain, disruption, decreased military capability, fear/panic, publicity and news impact, decreased confidence in critical infrastructures/psychological operations, great physical damage and even loss of life. The dilemma in the cyberworld is not only to detect attackers but also to understand why they are attacking" (Ashley, 2004).

According to U.S. FEMA's Cyberterrorism Defense Analysis Center (CDAC), training professionals in the field of counter cyberterrorism is urgent. The immediacy of technical infrastructure is in the path of real threat is described as particularly relevant to U.S. interests due to the persistence of aggressive targeting of systems information systems core to national infrastructure.

An increase in severity, frequency, and sophistication each year is noted as the rationale for congressional support of FEMA's Cyberterrorism Defense Initiative (CDI) and training program(s) for personnel involved in critical infrastructure. Without exception, as the U.S. critical infrastructure grows more reliant on information technologies, the danger of exposure to both foreign and domestic hackers stands to disengage our control over various important sectors of the "economy, public works, communication systems, and computer networks" (FEMA, 2010). Critical infrastructure described in the U.S. PATRIOT Act of 2001 are those,

"systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters" (Shea, 2).

Immediately post 9/11, industries subject to rigorous scrutiny were in the sectors such as arms manufacturing, chemicals and other high risk production. Energy infrastructure was also put on the radar after the 2001 Act, and dual risk management strategies were recommended to industrial entities on government contract, and where: 1) Supervisory control related to military compliance and supply; and 2) Data acquisition (SCADA) and distributive controls systems were already in force.

By 2005, the influence on how American business was conducted after the Patriot Act, had important trickle down effects in the global governance regime. International cooperation on worldwide security protocols stemming from business contracts and foreign policy doctrine laid for by the U.S. And other allies had impact on the fiscal oversight of energy infrastructure grid management systems as seen in the Final Report of the Counter-Terrorism International Conference, Riyadh, 2005. The document articulates a framework to working with Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) in cooperation with private oil and energy industry.

Standardization became the buzz word where it systems architectures employing SCADA technologies were "hot" priorities in emergency response. This is also pertinent to the management of unique legacy systems controlling critical infrastructure, earlier designed with the belief in mind that designated, internal measures of security were optimum to those controlled by taxonomies studied widely. Open source SAP have mitigated some of the risk here, but continued security measures must be worked on if industrial systems are to remain protected. As remote sensing conduits receiving raw data and sending out commands, SCADA control center systems provide software building blocks to critical infrastructure control networks. Sending signals to valves and switches, SCADA regulate the flow, rates and intensity of pressure to refinement and distribution of chemical and natural resources (i.e. oil and water).

SCADA also contributes to multi-scale network analysis, making SCADA systems invaluable, and simultaneously highly vulnerable to implantation of incorrect data by way of remote access. Dial-up modem connections employed for systems maintenance are a typically cited target of would be hackers. In terms of site target, chemical reserves constitute the biggest threat, as reactors once tampered with, may be changed through control rate of mixing, leading to raised temperature of effluent system to the point of explosion level.

Other critical systems targets in the National Strategy for Securing Cyberspace, 2003 include industrial control architecture dedicated to acquisition systems such as Distributed Control Systems (DCS) and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC). PLC devices provide automated monitoring switches in industrial controls at refinement plants manufacturing facilities. Primarily a software application SAP of internal data control PLC offer networks more flexibility in communication from machine to machine, or to an entire system of manufacturing technologies.

Networked PLC advance control of channel operations in manufacturing for centralized logistics management of all activities in the product chain: processing, holding to distribution. The incorporation of DCS to PLC networks furthers accuracy in the communication of process phases. SCADA systems integration is designed to interpret/control decoupling points; hence maximizing the PLC industrial channel all the way through to end distribution.

The sheer detail at risk within critical infrastructure it systems is daunting. The possibility that one act of cyber-terrorism could cause disaster at… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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