Imagine cyberspace as a lawless frontier, the kind John Ford or Sergio Leone breathed cinematic life into, minus the natural geographic boundaries.
Former CIA and NSA Director Gen. Michael V. Hayden has forgone the generally accepted “war” categorization many hang onto today, he told PBS in an interview.
Hayden pointed to a lack of natural technical barriers to protect information. Internet users are forced to take on personal responsibility for firewalls and other security, like ranchers trying to defend their herds and livestock from cattle rustlers and horse thieves.
The retired general spoke of the various enemies lurking in cyberspace. He noted that today bank robbers do not stick up a bank with a pistol, but head online to make off with the loot.
“Because it is so anarchic, there are a variety of actors out there in this space that don't have your best interests at heart,“ he said. “There are state actors out there who are interested in stealing either state secrets or industrial secrets.“
Pointing to a recent survey that concluded that the United States in the most feared nation in the cyber domain, Hayden acknowledged America’s place in the cyber frontier.
“The Chinese were a close second, but we were No. 1, which I think is simply a reflection that we are a technologically agile country, and we have very good intelligence services, and the rest of the world is kind of responding to that reality,“ he said.