Chapter 3

Analyzing Country-Level Threats

In the days of muskets, clipper ships, and gunpowder poured from a powder horn, the physical location of North America, with the vast Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, provided natural barriers to attack. This changed when the British invaded the colonies from across the Atlantic during the Revolutionary War and again during the War of 1812. Then, in the mid-1860s, Mexico attacked across land borders during the Mexican American War. On December 7, 1941, 353 Japanese fighter planes attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, drawing the United States into World War II—a new era of warfare had surfaced.

Compared to the basic soldier-to-soldier warfare of the past, Pearl Harbor ushered in the use of modern-day technology as a tool to support attacks against the United States. Technology had effectively removed what protection was left of the vast distance the ocean had provided to that time.

Technology today has significantly reduced the protection afforded by natural barriers. Cyber attacks launched from foreign entities can reach a computer holding sensitive data inside the Department of Defense in Virginia within seconds with little to no probability that the attacker will be identified. Boundaries are still there, just different. Instead of an ocean, we have firewalls and network intrusion detection applications. However, these boundaries are simply diminishing in effectiveness. We are now facing a new threat profile. ...

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