Cyber attacks threaten our security [Florida Times Union]
(Florida Times Union Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) By the time you finish this article, an Albanian teen could have hacked into your bank account, maxed out your credit cards and stolen your life savings.
A terrorist group based in Mali could have hijacked the electrical grid for the southeastern United States.
According to the 2014 Worldwide Threat Assessment, cyber attacks are the United States' greatest threat.
And we are not prepared to stop them.
Forty million credit card records were stolen online from Target customers during the recent holiday season.
Approximately 15 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year.
Relatively free from regulation, cyberspace has become a safe haven for illegal activity, including human trafficking, anonymous online drug markets and the emergence of virtual currencies.
Cyber makes these transactions easier to conduct and harder to prevent.
Our political science class has studied this urgent threat.
We have just returned from a trip to Washington, D.C.
During our visit, we presented our recommendations to better meet this challenge.FIGHT CYBER'S LINK TO SLAVERY
We addressed the issue of "modern slavery" - also known as human trafficking.
An estimated 2.5 million people are trapped and abused annually.
And the problem is growing in the realm of cyber space.
Jacksonville is considered a nexus for this heinous crime and Florida is its third largest American hub.
Yet the general public is unaware of the scope of the problem.
We advocated a media campaign led by the first lady and her daughters to raise awareness of cyber trafficking, including determination of a person's slavery footprint, computer generated girls to trap abusers, social media public service announcements and a Kony-style video.
We also challenged the Obama administration to host an international trafficking summit to establish a global effort to combat trafficking.OTHER STEPS URGENTLY NEEDED
Currently, no international laws exist governing cyber warfare.
We must update our bureaucracy and laws to address this growing threat.
We proposed the creation of a sixth branch of the armed forces to develop anti-cyber capabilities.
Our last recommendation called for taxing and regulating virtual currency (like Bitcoin) and to stop people from using anonymous web browsers to conduct illicit activities.
We believe that regulating both will allow law enforcement agencies to track and deter cyber criminals.
The rise of technology has outpaced the government's regulation and protection of U.S. national security.
The U.S. must strike a delicate balance between regulating the worst aspects of cyberspace but still permitting the freedoms and liberties that have led to astounding creativity and innovation.
Our nation's leaders must keep in mind that the political process is slow and has always lagged behind technology.
They must remain agile and adaptive in the rapidly changing world of cyberspace.
And everyone must take responsibility.
In Jacksonville, the most basic step to protecting yourself online is to practice good cyber hygiene, especially by having safe and strong passwords and making sure software programs are updated.
We were struck by how open officials were to our ideas.The authors are members of the University of North Floirdia's political science Real World Policy class. They recently visited Washington, D.C. and met with various U.S. and British officials.
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