Leon Panetta is a reasonable man and not given to alarmist statements. We need to take what he says seriously.
He has been very vocal in voicing his concerns about any further cuts to the defense budget. He warns that there is a high probability of a technological cyber attack that would paralyze our nation. Leon Panetta describes it as a cyber Pearl Harbor.
The Pentagon has already agreed to cut $450 billion over the next ten years but faces another $500 billion in cuts over the deal made by members of Congress for sequestration, which mandates automatic cuts to defense unless Congress meets the requirements of certain budgetary cuts. Congress agreed to sequestration because it seemed to be the only way they could come to a budget resolution.
Defense aerospace…Secretary Panetta and the top U.S. military officer, General Martin Dempsey, went before members of the Senate to make a case against the cuts, which they said would result in job losses and funding for operations including those in Afghanistan.
Panetta warned the cuts would spell disaster for U.S. defense. “It would guarantee that we hollow out our force and inflict severe damage on our national defense. I think you all recognize that sequester would be entirely unacceptable and I really urge both sides to work together to try to find the kind of comprehensive solution that would de-trigger sequester and try to do this way ahead of this potential disaster that we confront,” he said.
The Defense Secretary warned of another possible disaster: a cyberattack on the nation’s vital information systems, one with a magnitude similar to Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that triggered the U.S. entry into World War II.
Panetta said America’s enemies are developing cyber capabilities and are attempting hundreds of attacks each day on the country’s key systems. He said the U.S. military is working to stay prepared.
“I’m very concerned that the potential in cyber to be able to cripple our power grid, to be able to cripple our government systems, to be able to cripple our financial systems would virtually paralyze this country and as far as I’m concerned that represents the potential for another Pearl Harbor as far as the kind of attack that we could be the target of using cyber,” he said…
One example of how we could be attacked is through cyber worms. Just as we used Stuxnet, so could it be used against us. The Atlantic Wire talks about the cat being out of the bag. Stuxnet has now been democratized and is available to nations that sponsor terror.