Retired general warns that ‘cybersecurity is a major problem’ for US

Lawmakers, military leaders and other experts are increasingly focusing their time and attention on the issue of U.S. cybersecurity. There is a growing awareness that the federal government's cybersecurity defenses are inadequate for the evolving threats the country now faces.

Gen. Jack Keane spoke about this issue at the recent XChange Public Sector 2014 conference in Washington, D.C., CRN reported. Keane warned that unless the United States improves its cybersecurity efforts, it runs the risk of experiencing a "catastrophic event."

Cybersecurity shortcomings
According to Keane, a retired four-star general who served as vice chief of staff for the U.S. Army, cyberattacks have the potential to exert a widespread and destructive impact on U.S. infrastructure.

"Our financial and banking systems, despite our best efforts … are still vulnerable," the news source reported. "Our entire power utility grid is still vulnerable. Our entire transportation system, air and ground, is vulnerable."

Keane noted that the only truly protected areas are the United States' military networks and nuclear posture, according to CRN. He added that in terms of cyberoffense, the United States is by far the world's leader. It is only on defense that the United States is starting to slip.

A fixable problem
Keane went on to argue that this cybersecurity problem is not unsolvable, the news source reported. On the contrary, he claimed the government has the potential to improve its cybersecurity capabilities but this effort has not yet been made.

To address the issue, he recommended Congress pass strong legislation to encourage cybersecurity partnerships between the private and public sector.

One possible example of such an effort can be found in the healthcare sector. As Government Health IT recently reported, the Department of Health and Human Services is working with the Health Information Trust Alliance to increase awareness of cybersecurity issues in this sector, offering monthly briefings on recent developments. Speaking at the HITRUST conference in Texas, Rep. Michael Burgess called for even greater cybersecurity cooperation between private organizations and the federal government.

While this program only concerns the healthcare sector, it is likely more cybersecurity initiatives will pop up in the near future in other vulnerable areas.

Meanwhile, government agencies and departments must take more proactive steps to improve their cybersecurity capabilities to combat these growing international threats.