Information technology (IT) is widely recognized as the engine that drives the U.S. economy, giving industry a competitive advantage in global markets, enabling the federal government to provide better services to its citizens, and facilitating greater productivity as a nation. IT is revolutionizing society as profoundly as mechanical technology did in creating the industrial revolution. As a result, we are increasingly dependent for society’s everyday functioning on electronic ways to gather, store, manipulate, retrieve, transmit, and use information.
"When an element of the IT infrastructure is directly targeted, the goal is to destroy a sufficient amount of IT-based capability to have a significant impact, and the longer that impact persists, the more successful it is from the terrorist's point of view. . . . Irrecoverable loss of critical operating data and essential records on a large scale would likely result in catastrophic and irreversible damage to the U.S. economy. However, most major businesses already have disaster-recovery plans in place that include the backup of their data in a variety of distributed and well-protected locations (and in many cases, they augment backups of data with backupcomputing and communications facilities)."
Information technology is the sine qua non of both globalization and power — the locomotive on each track. It is integrating the world economy and spreading freedom, while at the same time becoming increasingly crucial to military and other forms of national power. Information technology thus accounts both for power and the process that softens and smooths power.
[T]he ways in which IT can be damaged fall into three categories. A system or network can become:
Unavailable. That is, using the system or network at all becomes very difficult or impossible. The e-mail does not go through, or the computer simply freezes, or response time becomes intolerably long.
Corrupted. That is, the system or network continues to operate, but under some circumstances of operation, it does not provide accurate results or information when one would normally expect. Alteration of data, for example, could have this effect.