Cyberspace & The Federal Gridlock On Your Security

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- This week WHNT News 19 learned of a report claiming Chinese hackers gained access to computer systems owned by QinetiQ, a military defense contractor in Huntsville.

According to the report, how the Chinese computer spies got through remains uncertain.
It suggests top-secret data from virtually every corner of the company may have been compromised.

WHNT News 19 highlighted just how tangible and concerning cyber threats are not only locally but on the global level Thursday night in our Taking Action Investigation Cyber Warfare.

Going a step further we sought out security experts for their opinions on how we got in this current predicament of trying to thwart attacks and espionage in a borderless empire of information.

Dr. Wally Kirkpatrick, CEO of Huntsville's DESE Research, has conducted cyber security studies for more than 2 years. Kirkpatrick serves in an advisory capacity to congress under Congressman Robert Aderholt, chairman of the Department of Homeland Security's sub-committee of appropriations. Kirkpatrick discussed the findings of his research on Capitol Hill just last week.

"Of the 14 cyber security bills introduced to 112th congress last year none of them made it into law," explains Kirkpatrick. "The president has issued a series of executive orders dealing with the cyber security threat."

But Kirkpatrick he says those orders have taken the national response to threats to the current limit of the executive branch's authority.

"I think the responsibility that places on this country is to respond in a robust and aggressive manner."

Security and intelligence expert, retired Army Major General and Senior Vice President of CGI Federal Barbara Fast says there is no lacking of things we have to do to move this forward on the security front. When it comes to cyber security, she says,  it is often easy to confuse the lexicon.

"Because we talk about cyber attacks but some of it is just cyber stealing, some of it is cyber espionage, just learning information," Fast points out.

She says the internet was certainly not created with security in mind and that many laws still stem from the first decade of the last century.

"Technology and the threat have outpaced our laws and our ability to act," says Fast.

Fast says much cyber security legislation gets tripped up in the proverbial politics of privacy. Security, after all, gets in everyone's way, right? But it is evident, says Fast, we need clear rules.

That line will of course have to be determined by federal lawmakers.Barbara Fast says the individual digital consumer can help by simply educating themselves.
She says know as much as you can, take cyber threats seriously, and protect your personal devices.

"That's where the friction is. How much security is enough security before you step over that line."

That line will, of course, have to be determined by federal lawmakers. Barbara Fast says though the individual digital consumer can help by simply educating themselves.
She says know as much as you can, take cyber threats seriously, and protect your personal devices.

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