Warning after warning has been given by military officials, intelligence agencies and private sector cybersecurity aspects about the growing national security threats emanating from cyber space.

Most recently, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta delivered what has been referred to as the first major policy speech on cyber security by a defense secretary. His speech, delivered in New York last week, has been called a call to (cyber) arms, declaring that the United States was facing the possibility of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor.”

Panetta, was speaking as much to Congress as the American public, as he disclosed that cyber attackers have already gained access to some of America’s critical control systems that run chemical, electric and water systems with the intent to “cause panic, destruction and loss of life.”

He is not the only one sounding the alarm! A government/private sector partnership is needed to defend the U.S. against potentially disastrous cyber attack.

There is no question the costs of cyber defense is significant and has hit the United States and other nations during a time of economic difficulties.

One Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at a critical infrastructure provider said it best: “I document what is needed for security and compliance and submit my budget. I get given a set amount of money and I have to live within it.”

Brian Martin from Spy-Ops echoed those comments saying “the current state of cyber security can accurately be described as budget driven.”

Collectively, our response has been mixed. Some all but ignore the assessment of the threat while others have really taken the warnings quite seriously and put in place safeguards and protections that are necessary in this highly dynamic environment.

That is the current state! While the nation has made great strides in protecting our critical infrastructure, we have much more work and the clock is ticking!

Kevin G. Coleman is a long-time security technology executive and former Chief Strategist at Netscape. He is Senior Fellow with the Technolytics Institute weekly blog for Breaking Gov on the topic of cyber intelligence.