"The path to disruption and destruction when it comes to cyber warfare and terrorism is through U.S. corporations that support critical infrastructure," Petersen said in an email. "cyber provides a weapon that can touch hundreds of US corporations without ever having to put feet on the ground."
"For me, this is a classic race condition," he said. "Will a terrorist organization or desperate nation state achieve a 'nuclear' level cyber capability and strike a known vulnerable United States? Or, as a nation, will we shore up our cyber defenses with enough capability to defend against such attacks."
"Unless we start to really address this issue as a nation, we stand a real chance of losing this race," Petersen said.
Survey researchers also found that 61 percent of their respondents felt the government could protect a nation's critical infrastructure from advanced cyber threats.
Although the survey didn't get into specific government actions to protect the infrastructure, Venable's Barnett advocated programs that provided incentives to businesses to bolster their security.
"The fight against cyber attackers is in private hands in United States," Barnett said. "Businesses need tax credits and liability protections to encourage them to make themselves more secure."
Despite the mantra that's been chanted by the security industry for the last decade, that perimeter defenses should be part of a layered cyber defense strategy, the Cyber Ark researchers found that more than half the survey's participants (57 percent) said their organizations put too much faith in perimeter security.
"There is no barrier that you can erect that will keep out a determined and intelligent opponent," RSA's Curry said.
Read more about malware/cyber crime in CSOonline's Malware/cyber crime section.