Following the start of Israeli air strikes against Hamas, hacker groups, including Anonymous, have declared open season on Israeli cyber defenses. However, Israel has invested heavily in cybersecurity and cyber operations, allowing it to defeat more than 44 million hacking attempts on government websites, losing only one website for about 10 minutes.
Israeli Finance Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz credited strong Israeli “investments in…computerized defense systems” as critical to Israeli success so far.
The U.S., on the other hand, is poised to slash its already flawed cybersecurity defenses with budget sequestration, leaving U.S. government systems even more vulnerable.
The U.S. government does not have the best track record on cybersecurity. With at least 75 cybersecurity failures over the past eight years and 13 in the past six months, U.S. government cybersecurity efforts could use some rethinking and additional resources.
But the U.S. is about to go in the opposite direction. Sequestration will cut 9.4 percent from every part of the defense budget. These cuts will hit cyber operations, including cybersecurity programs in the Department of Homeland Security.
Hollowing out our conventional and strategic forces is bad enough, as Syria is in flames, Israel and Hamas clash, violence continues in Afghanistan, Iran is racing to acquire a nuclear weapon, China and Russia are asserting their influence, and terrorist groups are expanding in Africa. But by cutting cybersecurity funding, the U.S. government will be less prepared to face increasingly dangerous cyber threats and will suffer additional costs and losses. The U.S cuts its cybersecurity to its own detriment.
This doesn’t have to be the case. Sequestration can and should be averted by finding savings elsewhere. With that part of the fiscal cliff averted, Congress and President Obama could then focus on tackling the real drivers of our future debt and deficits: entitlement spending. Heritage’s comprehensive fiscal plan, Saving the American Dream, responsibly addresses our spending and debt crises—partly through fundamental entitlement program reform—all without raising taxes or gutting our cyber and national security.
Israel has prepared for cyber threats and is now reaping the benefits of those investments. As the U.S. is on the verge of cutting its investments in cybersecurity, it should not be surprised if the only thing it reaps is more cyber failures.