The Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has announced the creation of a new first-strike cyber-force which will stand guard over the computing systems of the national infrastructure. Panetta states that there are very credible threats from abroad to the infrastructure of the United States by taking advantage of computing vulnerabilities, which could easily spell impending disaster in any number of scenarios. According to Panetta, “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. Such a destructive cyber-terrorist attack could paralyze the nation and create a profound new sense of vulnerability. Such a destructive cyber-terrorist attack could paralyze the nation and create a profound new sense of vulnerability.”
For a few months now, companies in the United States have experienced attacks. Cyber-attacks are not only occurring in the U.S.: oil companies Saudi Arabia and Quatar have been hit with a massive data attack now known as the Shamoon Attack. This attack tried to send massive amounts of data to those companies, attacking around 30,000 computers.
The cyber-force consists of engineers at computers proactively monitoring computer systems that control systems in our nuclear power plants, railroads, power plants, telecommunications firms, internet service providers, and more.
According to Panetta, “Potential aggressors should be aware that the United States has the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable for actions that harm America or its interests. 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.”