So what about a cyber-9/11, or a “cyber-Pearl Harbor,” the scenario envisioned in an October 2012 speech by then-U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta? Is the scare talk just hype?
Cyber expert James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says he put that question recently to what he calls “one of the leading hypers” of the cyberthreat.
“I said, ‘Oh, come on, you know it’s not going to be Pearl Harbor,’ ” Lewis says. “And he said, ‘Yeah.’ But he wants people to pay attention. And nobody is doing anything.”
Cybersecurity experts in both industry and government say the country is unprepared to deal with computer threats.
“So there are some folks out there who have believed we needed to hype the threat to get the country to move, on the theory that democracies don’t do anything until they’ve had a disaster,” Lewis notes. “He’s probably right, but I think it has been overhyped.”