In this U.S. Naval Institute Blog, Commander Brent Spillner, talks about “Preparing for a Digital Pearl Harbor” weeks before the United States completed its cyber-attack against Iran. Will we be ready if Iran decides to attack us? It’s important to look back. Spillner writes:
A front-page headline in the 7 December 1941, New York Times boldly declared “Navy Is Superior to Any, Says Knox.”[ii] The next four years would prove the Secretary of the Navy correct, but nevertheless the bombers that would hand his superior Navy its worst-ever defeat were scrambling for takeoff just a few hours after that issue went to print. The U.S. military’s justifiable assessment of (modest) superiority in conventional forces engendered a much less justifiable belief that “they would never dare to attack us” and undoubtedly drove the failure to maintain adequate defensive precautions.[iii]
In 1941 there was little doubt on either side that United States’s overall military and industrial might dwarfed that of Japan. The 1922 Washington Naval Treaty had enshrined a notional 10:6 ratio in favor of the United States over Japan in battleships, heavy cruisers, and heavy carriers, increasing in practice to 20:6 as long as U.S. interests remained closely allied with those of the UK.[iv] The senior Japanese admiral attending the treaty conference viewed this ratio as an egregious insult and declared that “the war with America starts now.”[v] Imperial Japanese Navy planners realized that global commitments would limit the U.S.-UK’s local force advantage in the Western Pacific and concentrated on submarine and aerial warfare not regulated by the treaty in order to level the playing field.[vi]Japan’s eventual withdrawal from the treaty in 1934 convinced U.S. officials that war was indeed plausible, but did little to shift the overall balance of power, nor to compromise the U.S. sense of superiority and security.[vii]
Are you doing everything you can to make sure your digital footprint is secure?
In 1941 the Navy failed to take seriously the threat that a bold and innovative enemy could pose to forces that would have been secure in “the last war.” Defensive preparations and assumptions were not rigorously examined against technical advances and actual practice, and force protection responsibilities were divided and obscured. Cyberattacks are now as devastating as innovations in long-range carrier strike were then, and our forces may again have decades of complacency to dislodge. The United States must rapidly strengthen organic cyber capability in every unit; give cyberdefense the same priority as physical casualty preparedness; diversify the use of key C4I systems; bring support infrastructure up to military standards; aggressively red-team and stress-test every assumption about its systems, relentlessly pursue better reconnaissance, indications, and warning capabilities; and provide for every platform to operate independently as a formidable offensive force. Failure to embed the lessons of Pearl Harbor in modern strategic culture would be far less excusable than any defensive oversight committed that bright Sunday morning.
Read more here.
Learn more about system-wide threats and Iran here:
- What is America Doing to Protect Its Grid from EMP and Other Threats?
- Survive and Thrive April: Is an EMP Attack Imminent?
- U.S. Cyber Attack on Iran was Real, Now What?
- This Critical Piece of the Grid is Vulnerable to Cyber Attack
- Can the Grid be Protected from Cascading Destruction?
- Former Senator Sounds the Alarm on Grid Security
- What Happens if Hackers Take Down the Grid?
- America’s Grid is Vulnerable: Here’s How to Improve It
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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