US military prepares for cyber war

2012-10-12 10:00
The US faces a growing threat of a cyber attack, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said. (AFP)

The US faces a growing threat of a cyber attack, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Washington - The US faces a growing threat of a "cyber-Pearl Harbour" and has drafted new rules for the military that would enable it to move aggressively against digital attacks, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said.

The amended rules of engagement underline the need to defend Defence Department computer networks, "but also to be prepared to defend the nation and our national interests against an attack in or through cyberspace", he said.

Citing a mounting cyber danger that could cripple the country's vital infrastructure, Panetta told the audience in New York that "we won't succeed in preventing a cyber attack through improved defences alone".

"If we detect an imminent threat of attack that will cause significant physical destruction or kill American citizens, we need to have the option to take action to defend the nation when directed by the president," he said.

"For these kinds of scenarios, the department has developed the capability to conduct effective operations to counter threats to our national interests in cyberspace."

Cyber sabotage

Although he avoided the word "offensive" to describe operations or capabilities, Panetta's speech clearly implied that the military would be empowered to take the initiative in the cyber realm.

Officials offered no further details, but as former CIA director, Panetta reportedly helped oversee an unprecedented cyber sabotage campaign that targeted Iran's uranium enrichment programme.

US President Barack Obama's administration has not publicly acknowledged the operation, dubbed "Olympic Games", which was detailed in a book by New York Times reporter David Sanger, based on interviews with officials.

"All of those who want to do us harm must know that the Department of Defence will take all action necessary to defend the nation," a senior defence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

Panetta warned of a "significant escalation of the cyber threat", with foreign actors targeting "critical infrastructure networks", including systems that operate chemical, electricity and water plants, as well as transport.

He laid out dire scenarios in which hostile states or groups could seize control of vital networks.

The result could be "'cyber Pearl Harbour": An attack that would cause physical destruction and loss of life, paralyse and shock the nation, and create a profound new sense of vulnerability," he said.

"An aggressor nation or extremist group could gain control of critical switches and derail passenger trains, or trains loaded with lethal chemicals.

"They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country," he said.

Panetta used the speech to press for cyber security legislation, arguing that major companies could not share information with the US government to thwart digital threats without legal protections.
Read more on:    us  |  cybercrime
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Music
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Cape Town 18:17 PM
Road name: Wet Weather

RAIN across the Cape Town area - turn on headlights, reduce speeds and drive with care

Hout Bay 09:25 AM
Road name: Chapmans Peak Drive

WEDNESDAYS - STOP / GO controls between 10am and 3pm for Alien Vegetation Clearing - every Wednesday - weather permitting

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 30% off top fragrances

Get mind blowing savings on selected fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is a good day to combine imagination, information and creativity together. Try not to over rationalise things and rather...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.