The Obama Administration is urging Congress to pass legislation as soon as possible to bolster cyber-security.

Alex Wong, Getty Images
Alex Wong, Getty Images

Many Jersey computer experts are applauding the recommendation.

Rutgers computer science professor Rebecca Wright says, "Cyber-security is a huge and growing issue…A lot of us have the impression that the threat is a teenager in his bedroom hacking for fun, but we've moved way beyond that…We now use computers for more and more important things. Aspects of our everyday lives are on our computers, including control of our critical infrastructure, like electricity systems, like hospitals are also more and more on network computers, and the banking system."

She says, "We've already seen, for years, attackers move to be much more organized and well funded, including things like organized crime, looking for things like identity theft and bank information, and we've seen situations involving different countries conducting cyber surveillance…And then even more of a concern, more recently, is this possible move towards cyber-warfare where you have government-sanctioned activity or maybe terrorist type groups."

The professor points out, "Some things are directly connected to the open internet - and that's the most easily accessible. But even, sort of, hardware systems, or some of the underlying software systems - even if they're not normally on the open internet - attackers can try to infiltrate them…In general, the farther a system is from the open internet, the more protected it is, but I think there are reasons for concern throughout pretty much every sector."

Wright adds, "Cyber-space will be one component of future wars, and something that needs to be defended and protected against. I don't want to create a doomsday, panic scenario, but I think that it's something that should be protected against, so it doesn't become an easy avenue for attack. I think that's a really important idea, and something to be putting resources into now…It's important that the private sector work in partnership with the government. I think having some sort of centralized attention to the threats, so there can be a cooperation between the private sector and the government is important."

She also says, "Cyber-security research and cyber-security education are also a critical part of the equation, so we can detect attacks, so we can defend against the attacks, so we can close holes before they're even available for attack."

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