Computers may be as disruptive as bombs when it comes to putting the United States in danger.
All efforts need to be made, therefore, to make sure the computers that take care of the nation's defenses are hacker-proof. As of now, they're not.A group of snoops not only broke into Pentagon computers recently but also gained access to computer systems across the country. That included a U.S. electric power grid system and the system that controls the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii, which oversees 100,000 troops in Asia.
Fortunately the hackers were from the National Security Agency and were only testing computer security as opposed to trying to create problems once they breached it. In the case of real cyberwar, however, once a system has been compromised, intruders will use it for their own nefarious purposes.
In the case of the power grid, they likely would cut off power nationwide. Those with ill intentions will use computers to cause as much disruption and confusion as possible.
That is why money used to upgrade systems to prevent intruders from sabotaging them is money well spent.
The Pentagon plans to shell out nearly $1 billion a year for the next several years to improve its security for classified and unclassified computer systems. While that is a lot of money, it is not unreasonable since the Pentagon has 2.1 million computers.
Actually, the Pentagon plans a dual effort - improving both software and hardware security measures while also stepping up its counterintelligence effort to thwart hackers before they get through the electronic door.
One of the benefits of the cyberwar game, code-named "Eligible Receiver," was to elevate the awareness of the danger the Pentagon and other government organizations face regarding their computers.
Fortunately, most intrusions to date have been by individuals curious to see if they can break into top-level systems. They consider it a game.
The Pentagon, in particular, seems to hold a certain mystique for hackers. It also holds a lot of information vital to our national security and must be protected.