Cyber self-defense is key to avoiding cyber threats to U.S. national security, according to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
The committee conducted a six-month study on cybersecurity and found that basic measures such as installing software updates and running up-to-date virus programs can defeat most threats, but are often neglected by computer users.
According to a CNN.com opinion piece written by Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, such simple measures protect the resilience of the nation’s information networks and therefore are a part of U.S. national and economic security.
As the United States is becoming more technologically interconnected, networks are more vulnerable to attack, they added. About 20 percent of global cyber threats comes from computers in the United States. Many users do not realize their computers are infected by malware, which can come in the form of spam emails or suspect downloads.
The committee members also called for a public-awareness campaign to educate Americans how to protect themselves against identity theft and other cyber crimes.
If computer users do their part by performing routine virus checks and maintenance on their machines, cybersecurity experts in the Intelligence Community can also more easily focus on sophisticated attacks that threaten national security, they added.