On the eve of Election Day, Americans are busy debating the issues, everything from health care and the economy to the war in Iraq and global warming. But there's a vital issue few citizens or politicians seem to be talking much about, though they should be: cyber-security.
By all credible accounts, attacks against government computers worldwide are escalating at an alarming rate. According to the Office of Management and Budget, there were nearly 13,000 "incidents" reported to the Department of Homeland Security's cyber-response center last year, more than twice the amount reported the previous year.
In one attack, the Pentagon was forced to take an estimated 1,500 computers temporarily offline after a sophisticated cyber-assault compromised an e-mail system. In another attack, Oak Ridge National Laboratory saw its security breached in what is believed to be a coordinated effort to target several national laboratories and other institutions. And then there's the string of attacks against the Republic of Georgia's cyber-infrastructure, culminating in a massive barrage that overloaded and eventually crippled the country's servers in August. Although the Russian government officially denied responsibility for the attacks, assigning blame to individuals working on their own, security experts view the incident as the first known instance of a cyber-offensive coordinated with ground combat.