(The Hosting News) – How bad could a cyber attack be considered? Perhaps as devastating as one of the worst terrorist attacks in American history, recently warned U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta.
“A cyber attack perpetrated by nation states or violent extremist groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack of 9/11,” commented the Secretary when speaking at the Business Executives for National Security meeting on Thursday.
Panetta also alluded back to another momentous time in American history, calling a potential attack a “cyber Pearl Harbor.”
The Secretary backed up his rhetoric by discussing a variety of recent incidents including DDoS attacks made against major U.S. companies.
But most notably highlighted was the notorious wiper virus “Shamoon” which included a self-execute code.
“This routine replaced crucial system files with an image of a burning U.S. flag. It also put additional ‘garbage’ data that overwrote all the real data on the machine. The more than 30,000 computers it infected were rendered useless, and had to be replaced,” Panetta noted, according to a report from American Forces Press Service.
The Defense Secretary emphasized his department’s role in protecting against such issues, mentioning an executive order to protect against cyber threats. Panetta is urging Congress to act on related legislation which he says has “fallen victim to legislative and political gridlock.”
Devastating scenarios could see hackers hitting U.S. water supplies, shutting down electric grids or derailing passenger trains, he warned.
The speech appears to back up similar comments made by U.S. President Barack Obama who discussed the importance of the issue in a Wall Street Journal editorial in July.