By Jerry Brito* & Tate Watkins** —
There has been no shortage of attention devoted to cybersecurity, with a wide range of experts warning of potential doomsday scenarios should the government not act to better secure the Internet. But this is not the first time we have been warned of impending dangers; indeed, there are many parallels between present portrayals of cyberthreats and the portrayal of Iraq prior to 2003, or the perceived bomber gap in the late 1950s. This Article asks for a better justification for the increased resources devoted to cyber threats. It examines the claims made by those calling for increased attention to cybersecurity, and notes the interests of a military-industrial complex in playing up fears of a “cyber Katrina.” Cybersecurity is undoubtedly an important policy issue. But with a dearth of information regarding the true nature of the threat, it is quite difficult to determine whether certain government policies are warranted—or if this merely represents the latest iteration of threat inflation benefitting private and parochial political interests.
* Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center at George Mason University. J.D., George Mason University School of Law, 2005; B.A., Political Science, Florida International University, 1999. The authors would like to thank Jerry Ellig, Jim Harper, Adam Thierer, Dan Rothschild, and Richard Williams for their helpful comments on drafts of this article.
** Research Associate, Mercatus Center at George Mason University. M.A., Economics, Clemson University, 2008; B.A., Economics, Clemson University, 2007.