Cyber adversaries could 'flip switch' to attack, experts warn House members
By Andrew Conte
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 3:27 p.m.
Computer attacks on South Korea underscore the growing threat of cyber warfare that starts with the flip of a switch, computer security experts told federal lawmakers Wednesday.
North Korea is a “wild card” when it comes to computer attacks because the country has the desire to launch attacks and a growing capability, said Frank J. Cilluffo, co-director of the Cyber Center for National and Economic Security at George Washington University.
Although North Korea is certainly a suspect behind attacks that shut down some South Korean banks and TV stations, President Obama and South Korean officials have not officially indicated that North Korea, China or any other nation is responsible.
Hacking by China and Russia is “brazen, wholesale and significant,” and Iran poses a growing threat, Cilluffo said.
“Both our national security and our nation's economic security are at risk,” Cilluffo told the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies. “It's literally as easy as flipping a switch to attack.”
Computer attacks represent a “new battlefield,” subcommittee Chairman Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., said. He called Iran a “potentially irrational actor” and said Russia showed a wilingness to attack its neighbors, Estonia and Georgia.
“I view cyberspace as a new, modern Cold War battlefield between the U.S. and Russia, and we must prepare and respond appropriately,” Meehan said.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, blamed North Korea for the cyber attacks on South Korea. He said Iran's growing capability keeps him up at night.
Last year's attack on a Saudi Arabian state-owned oil refinery proves that Iran has the ability to carry out a destructive attack, McCaul said. The attack wiped out the hard drives on 30,000 computers.
“Iran has this capability to destroy,” McCaul said. “They're red-lining us. They're testing us. They want to know how far they can go before we actually, ultimately respond.”
Iran has stepped up its use of cyberspace to repress its own citizens and attack Western targets, testified Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council. The country wants to demonstrate it can reach the United States and its allies.
“Iran has evolved a very significant and maturing offensive cybersecurity capability,” he said.
Andrew Conte is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can reached at 412-320-7835 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Work on tournament-class dek hockey rink in Bloomfield to begin
- Bullied South Fayette student’s case prompts wiretap overhaul legislation
- South Fayette parents express dissatisfaction with handling of bullying
- South Fayette mother wants case against bullied son to be dropped
- Legal experts question prosecuting South Fayette boy for recording bullies
- Newsmaker: Linda J. O’Neill
- Several Duquesne homes damaged in fire
- Shale gas drilling could be boost to Allegheny County parks
- Would-be drillers quizzed by Allegheny County Council committee
- Obama hopes to replicate CCAC job training efforts across United States
- Crisis nursery in Larimer will fill a need, founders believe