The United States has faced five security epochs, with each change involving transitions from a certain past to an uncertain future. The first epoch was from the Revolutionary War to the mid-1820s, with the United States at the fringe of an international security environment still dominated by Europe. The most recent epoch -- the Cold War -- was dominated by a bipolar world. The United States led the international community in creating institutions to rebuild the shattered economies of Europe and to deal with the collapse of the old Europe-dominated empires in the Third World. At the same time, the United States was leading the free world states to contain communism until the Soviet Union collapsed. Now we are in transition to a new epoch, seemingly characterized by the revival of old dangers -- nationalism and ethnicity. We now live with the unsettling fear of "loose nukes" and chemical and biological weapons in the hands of terrorists. The next security epoch also will present the challenge of cyber security. The explosive growth in the use of information technologies (IT) has had a profound effect on all sectors of the American economy and government. IT has fueled amazing economic growth, dramatically improved communications, and allowed American businesses to compete more effectively than ever. The United States -- and the world -- truly rely on information technology in ways unimaginable even just a few years ago. Information assurance, encryption, and network security pose some of the most daunting challenges the Department of Defense has ever faced. To take advantage of the IT revolution, we must ensure access to and protection of the very assets on which we depend. We are taking giant strides to make this happen, but much more remains to be done. These challenging days require that we turn to the expertise of information professionals both in DOD and in the broader government and private sectors to protect systems vital to all of us. We must ensure that our nation's journey into the new security epoch is as successful as the last.
Cyberthreat: Protecting U.S. Information Networks: U.S.Foreign Policy Agenda: An Electronic Journal of the U.S.Department of State, v.3, no.4, p. 8-10