Sens. Lieberman, Collins: Massive Cyberattack Could Be Next Pearl Harbor

Friday, 07 Dec 2012 11:28 AM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The growing threat of cyberterrorists wreaking massive havoc on the World Wide Web has striking parallels to the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor 71 years ago today, two influential senators say.
 
“On this anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, it’s worth remembering that enemies will attack at a time of their choosing. In fact, they rely on surprise,’’ Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Maine Sen. Susan Collins write in an opinion piece in Friday’s New York Times.

“A storm is surely gathering again . . . Our digital networks are being tested, on a minute by minute basis, by would-be cyberterrorists, criminal gangs, rogue hackers and rival nations who look for unguarded digital back doors that would allow them to seize control of our most essential computers.’’
 
Lieberman, an independent who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and Collins, the top Republican on the same committee, say they are echoing the concerns of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
 
“The most destructive scenarios involve cyber actors launching several attacks on our critical infrastructure at one time, in combination with a physical attack on our country,’’ Panetta said in an Oct. 11 speech. “The collective result of these kinds of attacks could be a cyber-Pearl Harbor . . . ’’
 
Lieberman and Collins also emphasize that cyberattacks do not have to be initiated from the United States to cause massive destruction here.
They urge the new Congress to pass “comprehensive legislation to defend our nation against this gathering cyberthreat.
 
“If it doesn’t, the day on which those cyberweapons strike will be another 'date which will live in infamy,' because we knew it was coming and didn’t come together to stop it.’’

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