In his latest post for The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, Henry Farrell explores the response to and implications of the recent hacking attack that has potentially uncovered sensitive personal information about a large swath of government employees. Farrell argues that the term of “cyber Pearl Harbor,” popularized by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others does not fit this attack.
“Even if the United States should not treat this as a ‘cyber Pearl Harbor,’ it should treat it as an important wake-up call. Espionage is a very real problem, and it appears that the nation has seriously let down its defenses. At the very best, this is enormously embarrassing for the U.S. government. Very likely, it is seriously damaging, just as other major incidents of espionage have been in the past.
It’s clear that there are grave cybersecurity problems within the federal government. As Marcy Wheeler notes, elementary security steps were not taken. It is very likely that there are much worse problems in the private sector. The appropriate responses to these problems are painstaking and technical improvements in security and procedures, not amateur dramatics on the Internet.”