The Edmond Sun

April 5, 2013

Lankford highlights national security concerns

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Tensions mount between the U.S. and North Korea as leaders in Pyongyang continue their bellicose rhetoric of a nuclear attack on the U.S. and its Pacific allies.

The U.S. Department of Defense is not taking North Korea’s warning lightly, vowing to protect U.S. interests and its allies. Ballistic missile defenses are on their way to U.S. naval and air bases at Guam, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced this week.

“North Korea’s capability is really based on how irrational their leadership is,” Congressman James Lankford said Thursday.

North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un, who has been in office since 2011 is untested and faces South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who was elected to office in 2012. Park Geun-hye has vowed to strike back if attacked by Pyongyang.

“The basic path of North Korea that all of us have watched over the years is when their people begin to starve, they’ll ramp up their nuclear program, they’ll ramp up their military program,” Lankford said. “The civilized world will step in and say, ‘If you’ll stand down we’ll give you $1 billion pay.’ And they’ll say we’ll do that.”

Today’s scathing rant from North Korea is similar to eight years ago when the desperate nation did the same thing, Lankford said.

“The problem is, we don’t know with this new leader, if he’s serious or if he’s doing the same thing the previous leaders did,” Lankford said. “They try to get more aide, then stop. So you have to take it seriously.”

North Korea also has the capability to conduct cyber attacks, but does not possess the capability of some other nations, Lankford said to members of the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce during a luncheon Thursday.

“We are under cyber attack consistently as a nation now,” Lankford said.

The military structure of many nations includes a component for cyber warfare, Lankford said. Cyber warfare tries to penetrate banking systems, law offices and the function capabilities of infrastructure, Lankford said. Threats are imposed on electric and water systems. Connections to the Internet are vulnerable, he said.

“They are systematically working one at a time to find vulnerabilities in the system,” Lankford continued.

A cyber attack may be time delayed for a chosen time to shut off a system after foreign cyber penetration has been made, he added. Turning a system back on after an attack could be problematic, he said. Degrading a system is another method posing vulnerability for attack.

Another possible scenario would involve hindering trade relations between international companies with a cyber attack penetrating information stored in law offices.

“Those are real examples of things that are going on right now,” Lankford said. “Most Americans do not see it and do not know it and we have a problem as a federal government.”

Intelligence agencies are able to detect international cyber attacks. But a firewall between the government and private sector does not allow the information to be shared, Lankford said.

“We can’t actually go to a law office and say, ‘By the way, are you aware that a Chinese set of companies is invading your system and they’re reading your files?’”

Lankford said the U.S. needs to deal with the firewall, but the thought of doing so makes Americans panic.

“Some of my conservative brethren say, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re going in and examining everybody’s emails,’” Lankford said.

The federal government has a responsibility to protect its borders, including keeping foreign cyber attacks from infiltrating the Internet, Lankford said.

“That will be a big debate that will get loud in a hurry,” he said. | 341-2121