Panetta: US Vulnerable to ‘Cyber-Pearl Harbor’

Friday, 12 Oct 2012 02:27 PM

By Newsmax Wires

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Our homeland confronts the risk of a devastating cyber attack, as terrorist-technology experts could bring down the power and transportations systems, financial networks, and the government itself, says Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

A worst-case scenario would have “cyber actors launching several attacks on our critical infrastructure at once, in combination with a physical attack on our country,” he said in a New York City speech to business executives Thursday night, The New York Times reports.

And what would be the result?

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“A cyber Pearl Harbor that would cause physical destruction and loss of life, paralyze and shock the nation, and create a profound new sense of vulnerability,” Panetta said.

Intelligence experts are concerned about an incident that could cause as much damage as the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, he said, according to the Washington Guardian. Almost 3,000 people were killed on 9/11.

Terrorists are looking hard at how to sabotage critical U.S. infrastructure, marking a “significant escalation of the cyber threat,” Panetta said.

“They are targeting the computer control systems that operate chemical, electricity and water plants, and those that guide transportation throughout the country,” he said. “We know of specific instances where intruders have successfully gained access to these control systems. We also know they are seeking to create advanced tools to attack these systems and cause panic, destruction, and even the loss of life.”

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