Why Hacking Is a National Emergency

By: Robert Siciliano  |  August 3, 2015


Foreign hackers, look out: Uncle Sam is out to get you. President Obama has issued an order that allows the State Department and Treasury Departments to immobilize the financial assets of anyone out-of country suspected of committing or otherwise being involved in cyber crimes against the U.S.

This order, two years in the making, covers hacking of anything. The order refers to hacking as a national emergency. Imagine if entire power grids were hacked into. Yes, a national emergency.

Another reason hacking is a national crisis is because the guilty parties are so difficult to track down. Hackers are skilled at making it seem that an innocent entity is guilty. And a major hacking event can be committed by just a few people with limited resources.

However, the order has some criticism, including that of assigning it an over-reaction to the Sony data breach. But it seems that the government can never be too vigilant about going after hackers.

Proponents point out that the order allows our government greater flexibility to go after the key countries where major hacks come from, like Russia and China. This flexibility is very important because the U.S. has a crucial financial relationship with these countries. And that needs to be preserved.

For instance, there’d be little adverse impact to the U.S. if our government choked off the bank accounts of isolated hackers who were part of the Chinese government, vs. strangling the entire Chinese government.

In short, the activities of small hacking groups or individual hackers within a foreign government will be dealt with without penalizing the entire government—kind of like doing away with punishing the entire fourth grade class because one kid threw a spitball.

Hacking is now elevated to terrorism status; the order is based on the anti-terrorism bill. So foreign hackers, you’ve been warned; the U.S. is not reluctant to level you because the order allows for sparing your government as a whole from being sanctioned.

You can do your part to protect the Homeland simply by protecting your own devices using antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing and a firewall. Keep your devices operating system updated and uses a VPN when on public WiFi.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to bestcompany.com discussing identity theft prevention.

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