A new study warns that attacks from computer hackers are now the biggest threats facing the United States and reveals the U.S. is not prepared to shield itself from these advanced electronic intrusions.
The report by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance says the dramatic expansion of sophisticated cyber-attacks has moved beyond acceptable losses for government and businesses that simply threaten finances or intellectual property.
"The impact has increased in magnitude, and the potential for catastrophic collapse of a company has grown," researchers said in the report, which is slated to be released later this month.
The study adds that it is not clear that the business community understands or accepts the new threat.
Millions of times a day, cyber criminals and rogue nations try to infiltrate government and business networks, snooping for data.
Intelligence and National Security Alliance , a non-partisan national security organization, says the U.S. must develop strategies beyond the current "patch and pray" procedures.
They must create cyber intelligence policies, coordinate and share intelligence better among government agencies and businesses, and increase research on attack attribution and warnings, the study recommended.
Although the report did not mention any specific countries, U.S. officials believe Russia and China, as well as a number of Eastern European nations, are some of the leading safe havens for cybercriminals, or government-sponsored or tolerated hacking.
Because the U.S. has also outsourced much of the design and maintenance of computer technology to other countries, the report also warns potential adversaries could have easy access to many different networks.
"The present situation is as dangerous as if the United States decided to outsource the design of bridges, electrical grids, and other physical infrastructure to the Soviet Union during the Cold War," INSA officials said.
The INSA is headed by Frances Townsend, who was Homeland Security adviser in the Bush administration.