U.S. government officials speaking at a conference held at Georgetown University expressed concerns over the rapid expansion of threats in cyberspace posed by state sponsored entities and criminal syndicates, according to a Reuters report.
"What we're looking at is a global cyber arms race. It's not proceeding at a leisurely or even a linear fashion but in fact is accelerating. I wouldn't claim that it's following Moore's law, but the curve looks kind of similar," said the director of intelligence at U.S. Cyber Command, Rear Admiral Samuel Cox.
Cox's reference to Moore's law implies that along with the nearly exponential increase in information technology capabilities, the potential threats posed by those technologies is also increasing at a sharp pace.
"This is not just a national security issue, It's a national security, public safety as well as economic," said White House cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt.
The United States Office of the Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX) last year also released a report that documents the billions of dollars in intellectual property and classified information being lost every year to cyber espionage.
The report, titled Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace, boldly suggested that state-sponsored entities in both China and Russia, among other offenders, are systematically targeting US government and private sector networks in an effort to pilfer valuable information that has tremendous economic value.
To combat the new genre of threats, international cooperative efforts have been established by organizations such as NATO, which is in the process of drafting an international law manual which will address concerns surrounding the prospect of cyber warfare and how member states can best cooperate to mitigate mounting threats to network security.
"To really operate effectively in cyberspace... it's really a team sport," said the principal director for cyber policy at the Pentagon, Steven Schleien.
Member nations are looking to combine efforts to increase information sharing and cyber situational awareness to combat the potential threats posed by state-sponsored cyber attacks, and the drafting of the international law manual looks to further this effort.
"This is not an area where arms control works. I don't know what we would monitor. I don't know how we would verify anything in terms of cyber weapons or cyber tools," Schleien pondered.