By James Stavridis and Frances Townsend
Imagine being at your work desktop and realizing your cursor has been taken over by a remote hacker. Now imagine you work at a water treatment plant and you are watching that same hacker try to dramatically increase the level of toxins in the water supply you and your family drink. That scenario, of course, happened a few weeks ago to a water operator in Oldsmar, Fla.
Fortunately, in the case of Oldsmar, city officials said several additional checkpoints would have flagged the increase in water contamination if it had been missed by the hacked employee. But what about towns that do not have similar safeguards in place?
This incident is just the latest example in a pattern of attempted attacks on our nation’s critical infrastructure systems. These attacks have long troubled the national security community as they expose how the safety and security of communities across the country are partly reliant on vulnerable cyber networks that are under constant attack by potentially nefarious actors.
Throughout our decades of service at the highest levels of the U.S. government, we supported a combination of hard power (military supremacy), soft power (diplomacy) and smart power (a practical mix of the two) to protect U.S. interests at home and abroad. With the nation and the world increasingly reliant on technology, it is time to reframe national security policy through the lens of prioritizing and advancing our long-term advantage in existing and emerging technologies.
That is why we supported the launch of a new national security report calling for the deployment of U.S. “digital power.”