Panetta warns of a cyber-Pearl Harbor

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?” …

“I think there has to be a greater sense of urgency with regards to the cyber potential not only now, but in the future,” said Panetta. “I think this is a, obviously it’s a rapidly developing area. The reality is we are the target of literally hundreds of thousands of attacks every day. It’s not only aimed at government, it’s aimed at the private sector.”

“There are a lot of capabilities that are being developed in this area,” said Panetta, who served as CIA director in the past. “I’m very concerned that the potential in cyber to be able to cripple our power grid, to be able to cripple our government systems, to be able to cripple our financial system would virtually paralyze this country. And, as far as I’m concerned, that represents the potential for another Pearl Harbor as far as the kind of attack that we could be the target of using cyber.”