Russia and China will be able to launch a catastrophic cyberattack on critical U.S. infrastructure, like the electric grid, for at least the next 10 years, a report for the Pentagon says.
The Defense Science Board task force says in its report cyber vulnerabilities must be reduced while the Pentagon creates offensive cyber weapons to inflect damage on U.S. adversaries.
"The report presents a dire picture of weaknesses in both military and civilian information and control systems that are being exploited by advanced cyber warfare states such as China and Russia, along with second-tier cyber threats from states such as North Korea and Iran," The Washington Free Beacon noted.
And the report says: "First, major powers (e.g., Russia and China) have a significant and growing ability to hold U.S. critical infrastructure at risk via cyberattack, and an increasing potential to also use cyber to thwart U.S. military responses to any such attacks. This emerging situation threatens to place the United States in an untenable strategic position.
"Although progress is being made to reduce the pervasive cyber vulnerabilities of U.S. critical infrastructure, the unfortunate reality is that, for at least the next decade, the offensive cyber capabilities of our most capable adversaries are likely to far exceed the United States' ability to defend key critical infrastructures.
"The U.S. military itself has a deep and extensive dependence on information technology as well, creative massive attack surface."
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., chair of the House Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities, said warnings in the report need to be heeded, according to the Free Beacon.
"Cyber warfare and influence campaigns being waged by state and non-state actors represent a national security challenge of generational proportions," Stefanik said.
"I remain concerned about our apparent lack of a coherent whole-of-nation strategy, but the tangible recommendations in the report are a good place for Congress to start building that strategy,"
The report recommends the U.S. maintain its options against nations launching cyberattacks, including diplomatic censure, law enforcement actions and economic sanctions in addition to military action.
But it says it should also have "an array of scalable offensive cyber capabilitie — including high-impact strategic cyberattack options — as an integral part of its cyber deterrence posture."
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