By: Rebecca D. Costa, The Costa Report
Among the plethora of threats facing the United States - from ISIS and the resurgence of Al Qaeda in the Middle East, saber rattling by Putin, and Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions, to border security and energy dependence - the one that keeps former Chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence, Mike Rogers, awake at night is cyber terrorism.
Appearing on The Costa Report, the former Chair said cyber attacks on Sony Pictures and the Sands Casino were opening shots. "We're really in a cyber war and most Americans just don't know it," said Rogers. "The Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians - and now we also have a whole host of international organized-crime players in on the game - all of them cost us economic prosperity, and some of them, through the most-destructive cyber attacks, really risk our national security."
The former 7-term Congressman from Michigan noted that the perpetrators of the assault on Sony came from North Korea - a country ranked among the least capable cyber actors in the world. Rogers said the North Korean hackers had to leave North Korea to launch their attack because the necessary infrastructure was not available in their own country. "They took over the server of the hotel where they were located, and used that hotel server to attack the company (Sony) to expose embarrassing emails, steal intellectual property, and conduct destructive attacks using something called a wiper virus, which they used to erase data," Rogers said. Rogers further explained that once the data had been erased, it "could never be recovered again."
The attacks on Sony and the Sands marked the first time foreign nations had use cyber terrorism to make a political point. Iran targeted the computer systems at the Sands Casino to punish the company's CEO for publically stating that that Iran should not be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon. The attack is estimated to have cost the Sands an estimated $40-$60 million.
"The sad part, I think, is that this is only going to get worse," Rogers warned.
"Nations with much-greater cyber capabilities, such as Russia and China, are a far more-dangerous threat ... China has already gotten code into our electric grid," he said. "If they ever decided to invade Taiwan, or become more aggressive in the South China Sea, they would have the ability to flip a switch and turn out our lights. So we know that nation states are already capable of really serious consequences, and this destructive-data part is what worries me most."
Exacerbating Roger's worries is a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC which indicates that national security does not rank among the top three concerns of Democratic primary voters. The survey revealed that Democrats consider jobs creation, health care and climate change a greater priority than security, whereas Republican primary voters consider national security, debt and job creation to be the top priorities (in that order).
"It's concerning that most Americans can't get on the same page about what our threats are," said Rogers, who many suggest is a likely 2016 Vice Presidential candidate. "None of the other programs work if we can't get the national security part right. When our next president gets sworn in - and I don't care who it is - that person is going to get slapped in the face with the rest of the world's problems, and if we don't deal with those issues in a timely way, they just get more complex and more difficult to solve."
To hear the full interview with former Congressman and House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers, visit rebeccacosta.com