Friday, June 15, 2012

Panetta Warns of Cyber Pearl Harbor: ‘The Capability to Paralyze This Country Is There Now’

( -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned a Senate panel today that America faces "the potential for another Pearl Harbor" launched by enemies who have the capability to wield a cyberattack that would “paralyze this country.”

Panetta made his remarks under questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) during a Department of Defense (DOD) budget hearing held by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

Referring to a potential cyberattack against the United States, Graham asked, “You said something that just kind of went over everybody’s head, I think, that there’s a Pearl Harbor in the making here. You’re talking about shutting down financial systems, releasing chemicals from chemical plants, releasing water from dams, shutting down power systems that can affect the very survival of the nation. What’s the likelihood in the next five years that one of these major events will occur?”

Panetta answered, “All I can tell you is that technologically the capability to paralyze this country is there now.”

When Graham asked whether a “growing will” existed among enemies of the United States to engage in cyberattack, Panetta said, “I think that the more this technology develops, the more the will to potentially use it is going to take place.”

Graham, who also serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, then followed up and asked, “Would you say there’s a high probability?”

“I think there’s a high risk,” said Panetta.

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