The United States is not only highly vulnerable to cyberattacks, it may be a mystery as to who is launching them, according to Brian Finch, head of the Global Security Practice at the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro in Washington, D.C.
"There are a tremendous number of ways to disguise where these attacks originate from," Finch told former Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, guest host of "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"They could be sitting time bombs that someone just needs to activate in order to disrupt operations or destroy a physical infrastructure, that type of thing.
"We're no longer in a world where we can exercise our military power or our standoff power through aircraft carriers, cruise missiles, long-range bombers, drones, etc . . . without fear of reprisal."
Finch said there are a vast variety of potential cyberattacks.
"You have the spectrum, running from crashing websites under what they call a denial-of-service attack, which we've already experienced on a number of occasions," he said.
"You can progress to the stealing of information, which could be harmful, it could be passwords to gain access, Social Security numbers … important corporate or even government information, intellectual property, etc."
But the most disruptive cyberattack, Finch said, is when an enemy goes after a utility or piece of critical infrastructure.
"[It would disrupt] operations so that the power goes out, the lights go out, the water doesn't flow … traffic systems, etc., and even potentially they could destroy data or give false commands to systems so that generators overload or that type of thing where there's actual physical destruction involved."
Finch said the world is on the precipice of a major shift in global security politics.
"For decades, since the end of World War II, and even before then ... if we attacked a smaller nation, a nonsuperpower, like … bombing Libya in 1986, going after Gulf tankers or Iranian supplies in 1988 and through the '90s and our bombing of Iraq, we never really feared retribution or reprisal attacks," he said.
"We could fear, potentially, terrorist attacks sometime down the road, but that would take a lot of effort and could easily be interdicted. Now, with this Syrian situation, this is really the first time in centuries, really, that the United States faces a possibility of a direct, immediate reprisal to the homeland should they take offensive military action."
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