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The Cybersecurity Threat to U.S. Growth and Prosperity

Network-enabled intellectual property theft and commercial espionage threaten to undermine our national competitive advantage. Ironically, an over-energetic regulatory or bureaucratic response could be equally damaging, by constraining future web-enabled economic gains. Rather, a middle ground is needed, where government stimulates the private sector to protect its most valuable assets.(John Dowdy )

We must remember that cyber crime, cyber terrorism, cyber espionage or cyber war are simply crime, terrorism, espionage or war by other means. Cyberspace adds a new dimension, but its use in warfare should be subject to the same strategic and tactical thought as existing means.”(UK Minister of State for the Armed Forces Nick Harvey )

Cybersecurity has attracted a considerable amount of attention recently, due to a spate of attacks on high-profile government and business targets including the CIA, Sony, Lockheed Martin and Citigroup.

Internationally, both governments and corporations are beginning to recognize the scale of this cybersecurity challenge. President Obama launched a legislative proposal to tackle the challenge following the release of a recently concluded policy review, which suggested that “threats to cyberspace pose one of the most serious economic and national security challenges of the 21st century for the United States and our allies.”

This article explains why addressing the cybersecurity threat is critically important for U.S. economic prosperity and why the “same strategic and tactical thought” will be ineffective.

Government must realize that in addition to the shift it is making from traditional physical security era approaches and mindsets, it must also make a shift to recognize that it is responsible not only for the protection of its own assets, but for cybersecurity in the private sector, as well.

The need for change is not limited to government: The private sector must also recognize the severity of the threat it faces and collaborate with government and cybersecurity vendors to address it.

The stakes are high. Cyberattacks seriously challenge U.S. competitiveness by threatening two of the core drivers of U.S. economic prosperity: intellectual property (owned by both government and the private sector) and the Internet. Both government and business leaders need to respond to the threat.

Government is already investing in defending its own assets, but it cannot afford to stand aside with regard to assets held by the private sector for two reasons.

First, some areas of the private sector are important in government’s own supply chain; second, the private sector’s intellectual property is vital for economic prosperity.

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