September 11th’s Impact on Cybersecurity

September 09, 2019


The terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, have had a lasting effect on the security of our country. From enhanced airport security and flight restrictions to new safety protocols for workplaces and schools, the impact continues to resonate nearly two decades later. More recently, the issues of cybersecurity and September 11th have also come into play, as our world continues to become digitally driven and more interconnected than ever before — which can expose security issues and threats to national safety.

We’ve all seen the security repercussions of the counterterrorism efforts that have arisen since the terrorist attacks: long lines at airports as travelers show plastic bags of liquids or take off their shoes. However, the intersection of cybersecurity and September 11th has been less observable — but still just as impactful.

For instance, after Sept. 11, Congress several times amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to give federal authorities more power to engage in surveillance activities. There is an element of cybersecurity to this legislation, as it has been updated to take into consideration the role of cyber-attacks, as well as the digital mechanisms investigative authorities can use to enhance the nation’s security. Another major shift was the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, dedicated to combatting terrorism. In the years since September 11th, the agency has evolved its focus to include cybersecurity, as the reality that America’s digital borders are just as threatened as its physical ones became clearer.

The infrastructure that developed in the wake of September 11th has also been key to strengthening the country’s approach to cybersecurity. After the attacks, there was a renewed sense of collaboration — among federal, state and local law enforcement authorities as well as government agencies tasked with protecting the nation. The same has been true with cybersecurity, as federal authorities now operate on the foundation that shared information can be a major defense against terrorism. With that in mind, authorities at all levels need to continue to find innovative and proactive ways to continue to prioritize American safety, both on and offline.

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