Skip to content


The book “Spies, Lies and algorithms,” by Amy B. Zeqart, describes the US cyber security threat in the last chapter. Our greatest security threat is a cyber-attack by our enemies China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, not a shooting war. For many years, hackers have attacked our businesses, universities, and government agencies repeatedly. Each time our Washington, D.C. leaders cry, complain and point fingers at each other to deflect the blame and do nothing.

Our greatest cyber threat comes from China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Collectively, they account for 77% of the cyberattacks on US businesses, universities, and government agencies. The other 23% is done by criminals to steal assets. In 2018, cyber theft cost $600 billion globally, most of it in the US. China’s theft of US Intellectual Property (IP) is $Trillions. The potential security threats are such as shutting down electric grids and disabling military communications systems.

Defending cyber networks Is not feasible. Technologists estimate there are 1,000s of coding errors in cyber networks that make them vulnerable to hacking. Malware transferred unintentionally from worker’s personal computers when workers access the cyber networks constantly, create new vulnerabilities. Victims may not know the cyber network has been hacked for months, making it difficult to identify hackers. Hacks can be traced to specific computer sources but identifying the person who used the computer to do it is more difficult.

Large cyber networks should be divided into separate cyber networks with air gaps in between to make cyber-attacks more difficult. For example, there is no reason to have a large business’s Human Resources, Engineering, Finance and Accounting information in the same cyber network. Likewise, for universities and government agencies.

The best and only defense is a super cyber counterattack capability to cause so much punishment to the hacker to deter any future attack.

Effective deterrence requires 1) clear redlines. 2) credible capability and willingness to punish attackers. 3) ability to identify the attackers quickly.

That will require a dedicated staff of technical experts in the National Security Agency (NSA) to be constantly prepared to react and coordinate the technical staffs in other government agencies, businesses, and universities. Effective deterrence must be proactive not reactive. We already know who the countries are and, in many cases, who the individuals are. Presently, coordination among cyber network managers is nonexistent. When hacked, they hide it as long as possible to avoid the unfavorable publicity.

We absolutely must not start a shooting war with the countries making the cyber-attacks. This is a war of good intelligence to identify the attackers and punish them with cyber counter attacks. We have the best cyber technical experts in the world. We need to use them effectively.

Ralph Coker