The New York Times reported recently on a speech delivered by U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, who “warned that the United States was facing the possibility of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor” and was increasingly vulnerable to foreign computer hackers who could dismantle the nation’s power grid, transportation system, financial networks and government.” “He said he was reacting to increasing aggressiveness and technological advances by the nation’s adversaries, which officials identified as China, Russia, Iran and militant groups.
“An aggressor nation or extremist group could use these kinds of cyber tools to gain control of critical switches,” Mr. Panetta said. “They could derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals. They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.”
The U.S. Government is faced with two challenges:
- first, being able and willing to conduct aggressive, proactive Internet cyber attacks on enemies of our country; and
- second, gain necessary knowledge of the inventory, vulnerabilities, and threats of the country’s infrastructure. Much of which, is owned and operated by private companies, who for the most part, consider their parts of the infrastructure and the methods used to control them as proprietary and competitive information they don’t trust the government to keep secret.
Clearly, the message to take away from this speech is that the United States will consider a major cyber attack on our infrastructure as an act of war. And, like the Japanese Pearl Harbor attack, the impetus to go on the offensive and attack or counter-attack at will. Folks, this could get interesting, especially in light of the cyber-attacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities being blamed on the U.S. and Israel. Guess we all need to put on our “big person” pants and get ready for cyber war.
Reference: New York Times article
Be very careful…it’s dangerous out there.
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