Napolitano: 'Cyber 9/11' a very real threat
Published: Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 7:56 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned on Thursday that a major cyber attack is a looming threat and could have the same sort of impact as last year's Superstorm Sandy, which knocked out electricity in a large swath of the Northeast.
Napolitano said a “cyber 9/11” could happen “imminently” and that critical infrastructure — including water, electricity and gas — would be vulnerable to such a strike.
“We shouldn't wait until there is a 9/11 in the cyber world. There are things we can and should be doing right now that, if not prevent, would mitigate the extent of damage,” said Napolitano, speaking at the Wilson Center think tank in Washington and referring to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City in 2001.
Napolitano runs the sprawling Homeland Security Department, created in March 2003 in the aftermath of 9/11.
She urged Congress to pass legislation governing cyber security so that the government could share information with the private sector to prevent an attack on infrastructure, much of which is privately owned.
A cyber-security bill failed in Congress last year because business and privacy groups opposed it. The measure would have increased information-sharing between private companies and U.S. intelligence agencies. It also would have established voluntary standards for businesses that control power grids or water treatment plants.
Business groups said the legislation was government overreach. Privacy groups feared Internet eavesdropping.
New cyber legislation is being considered, but it is unclear whether it will get through the gridlocked Congress.
President Obama is expected soon to issue an executive order that would set up a voluntary system to help protect some critical infrastructure and offer incentives to companies that participate.
Without a new law, however, companies can't be granted any kind of legal immunity for sharing information with the government and within the industry about potential threats.
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.
- Powerful quake shakes N. California; no injuries
- Climate contraptions get real consideration
- Climate contraptions get real consideration
- Scientists: Test West Coast for Fukushima radiation
- Flubbed ‘stifling’ finally ends 29-round spelling bee
- Obama losing close adviser to end 9 years of service
- Consensus on how to notify data breach victims lacks
- Obama’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ program to target minorities with high jobless rates
- Gas explosion in N.J. leaves 1 dead, 7 injured
- Facebook to police gun-related posts, sales