"The next war will be in cyberspace’ | SummitDaily.com

"The next war will be in cyberspace’

by jane stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE – Hackers, crackers, organized crime, terrorists – even curious or bored citizens – all threaten the security of information ensconced in the World Wide Web.

“The challenge is cyber vulnerability,” Harold Hendershot, unit chief of the National Infrastructure Protection Center, said at a Homeland Security conference in Breckenridge Monday. “The tools needed (to hack into systems) don’t take a high degree of skill. And with increased globalization, our chances of security breaches increase. The next war we’re going to fight is going to be in cyberspace.”

Many people believe there isn’t much to be lost by someone hacking past security systems and firewalls in a database. But behind those walls exist maps that show where municipal waterways, hospitals, stadiums, schools and communications centers are located, Hendershot said. There are more than a few military secrets biological warfare wrapped under layers of encryption on network servers throughout the world.

“Terrorists are using the Internet,” Hendershot said. “They’re in caves, with phones and digital imaging capabilities linked to laptops. It’s easy to do.”

Deb Daniels, assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice, listed a variety of safety measures Americans need to take to protect that information.

The justice system needs to ensure terrorist recruiting efforts in prisons are halted, information systems need to be updated and standardized so emergency responders from the local to federal level can communicate and receive real-time information, research must yield results people can use in the field and agencies need to use existing funds more efficiently. Additionally, a statewide anti-crime plan should be developed to encourage the average citizen to report suspicious activities.

“This is a major paradigm shift,” Daniels said. “There’s no federal substitute for local intelligence. We’re the ones on the street. We know what’s happening on every corner every day.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.

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